COMPOSER, POET AND PHILOSOPHER
A. EAGLEFIELD HULL
LIBRARY OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS
A. EAGLEFIELD HULL
MUS. DOC. (OXON.)
UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME
LIBRARY OF MUSIC AND MUSICIANS
A. EAGLEFIELD HULL, Mus. Doc. (Oxon.)
Crown 8vo. Occasionally Illustrated.
HANDEL. By ROMAIN HOLLAND.
BEETHOVEN. By ROMAIN ROLLAND.
THE EARLIER FRENCH MUSICIANS (1632-1834).
By MARY HARGRAVE.
A GREAT RUSSIAN TONE POET : SCRIABIN.
By DR. EAGLEFIELD HULL.
FRENCH MUSIC OF TO-DAY. By G. JEAN-AUBRY.
MUSORGSKY. By M. D. CALVOCORESSI.
BACH : HIS LIFE AND WORKS. By DR. EAGLEFIELD HULL.
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & Co., LTD.
Broadway House, 68-74 Carter Lane, London, E.G.
Photo, by A. Z. Cabin
Composer, Poet and Philosopher
A. EAGLEFIELD HULL
MUS. DOC. (OX ON.)
With numerous Musical and other Illustrations
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER
FACULTY OF MUSIC
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
V- '/ \' A - lV( -
I INTRODUCTOKY 3
II THE LIFE 11
III THE MAN HIMSELF 27
IV ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS 39
V CHAMBER Music 59
VI PIANO WORKS 71
VII THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 91
VIII THE SONGS - 103
IX THE VIOLIN WORKS - 115
X His TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 125
XI THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 147
XII CONCLUSION -------- 169
I LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS - - 183
II LITERARY WORKS 199
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTOGRAPH (by Alwyn Langdon Coburn) Frontispiece
FACSIMILE OF CYRIL SCOTT'S HANDWRITING, 1916
(Rough Sketch of an unpublished work) - 55
EXAMPLE OF ORCHESTRATION
(From the Pianoforte Concerto) - - - 142-3
THE dominant feature of Cyril Scott's music
is its originality, that is to say, its modernity.
He is an innovator. We hear so much of
Modernism nowadays, and like most of the other
art-terms commonly bandied about, it seems to
have no very precise meaning. To say that a
musician is a Modernist is about as enlightening
as to say he is an Impressionist. All men
worthy of the name are modernists, all musical
composers cannot be anything else but impres-
sionists. Modernism is nothing more than
innovation. Further, Ultra-modernism, if any-
thing, should express merely the degree of the
orientation of the artist's outlook towards the
future ; whereas it is often applied to artists who
are thought to have lost all touch with
4 CYRIL SCOTT
their age. The word also is not infrequently
used derisively by those critics who sprawl
about with such vague catch-words as Neo-
Impressionism, Symbolism and Fauvism. The
term Modernist then should, rightly speaking,
be given only to the man who is progressive in
idea and in style. New wine cannot safely
be put into old wineskins ; and so it has come
about that music has effloresced into innumerable
styles. Some composers, like Debussy, create a
new harmonic system ; others, like Scriabin, in-
vent a new way of using harmony ; others (less
successful), like Rimmington and Edison, are
seeking closer analogies between sound and col-
our. Mysticism has laid its hold on music as
well as on painting and literature. D'Ergo, the
Belgian theorist, calls Acoustic Science to the
help of music, just as Seurat and Signac
have utilised the theories of scientific chromati-
cism in their pictures. Nevertheless music is most
valuable when it is used in its purest mode,
and it is found only at its highest powers in instru-
mental forms. In these days of analytical science
and material aims, it is refreshing to have to do
with so ideal an art, one which resists a surgeon-
like dissection just as much as it does a solution
by chemical process. For music is entirely a
thing of the spirit, and when Cyril Scott asserts
that " if a man is not musical he cannot be very
spiritual," he is in accord with no less a mind than
Shakespeare's. Given perfect sincerity, a man's
music is the key to his character, the reflection
of his soul ; it gives the most reliable index to
the man who composes it, and also to the man
who interprets it.
In studying Cyril Scott's music we shall find
there the key to his richly-endowed personality,
a personality modern, intuitive, sensitive, com-
plex, unified and sincere.
If cornered and compelled to classify himself,
I believe he would call himself a Romantic, for
I have read the exceedingly lucid chapter in his
Philosophy of Modernism 1 dividing the whole
field of art into three camps ; Classicism, Ro-
manticism and Futurism. The latter school he
rightly prefers to call Monsterism. As the
Classicist adhering blindly to tradition and con-
vention regards even the obvious as a virtue, the
Romanticist aims at the creation of a new style,
always remembering the limits imposed by the
canons of beauty and art. The Futurist struggling
to be new at all costs, and without limits, is by
that very fact imposing on himself a convention
as shackling as the traditional one of the Classicist.
1 The Philosophy of Modernism in its Connection with Music.
6 CYRIL SCOTT
To use Cyril Scott's own simile from the same
book, " the Classicist is like a pedestrian who em-
barks on a walking tour with the firm intention
of keeping entirely to the roads ; the Futurist is
like a man w r ho starts with the opposite intention
of keeping entirely off the roads ; thus both these
pedestrians are the slaves of their respective in-
tentions, and only the man who starts out with a
perfect freedom of choice, to follow or leave the
road whenever he thinks fit, may be truly regard-
ed as unbound by fetters. And this man, ad-
justed to the plane of art, is the true Roman-
Cyril Scott has brought the " sense of new-
ness " into the art of music afresh. This sense
is as difficult to define 1 as the sense of
sweetness would be to the man who has never
tasted sugar ; or as the song of the nightingale to
one who has never heard this true Romanticist
amongst the song-birds. Such a composer will
be open to be called a poseur; but, as
he says, the true poseur is rather the so-
called Classicist, who regards dissimilitude as
bad taste, whilst the Romanticist scorns simili-
tude as objectionable, a thing to be avoided at all
l Scott defined it once as " merely the intensified consciousness of
such weakness and tedium as arises from repetition and imitation."
" That is too obvious," he remarked once when
I suggested some orchestral scoring to him. On
another occasion, when at the organ, his own
discords, which are too keen for many people,
sounded " too sweet and cloying" to him.
I do not promise that everything I am going
to say in this book will be agreeable to all, al-
though I shall avoid as far as possible any parti
pris. Great admirer as I am of most of Scott's
music, and also of the man himself, I do not like
all his music, nor the remainder of it equally
well, any more than I agree unreservedly
with many of his clever pungent sayings. I feel
certain, however, that a wider knowledge of his
music, and no less of his many novel views, will
be advantageous to all interested in art. Where-
as new views, new thoughts, and indeed anything
savouring of change, will always be distasteful to
some, we cannot stop the onward march of things
any more than the leopard can change his spots.
To the conservatives I would suggest that going
forward into the future, with one's gaze fixed on
the past, is as foolish a proceeding as for a soldier
to go into action with his back to the foe. At
the best it is not the sign of a fine spirit, nor will
he get the first glimpse of such glories as the
future may hold.
AT the time of writing this chapter, Cyril
Scott, at my request, has come on a visit,
in order to play me those particular works of
his which it were otherwise difficult to hear.
As he sits in my study, composing some Finger
Exercises 1 with an amazing celerity, whilst I talk
to him inconsequently about almost every sub-
ject under the sun, I marvel at the facility which
enables him to write down strangely novel pro-
gressions with such an absolute sureness of effect.
Last night I was spellbound at the nonchalant
ease with which he played through his superb
Piano Concerto from the full score MS., rippling
along (as I flung the pages over almost continu-
ously) with truly astonishing gifts of technique,
touch and reading ; whistling the while flute and
violin melodies, and vocalizing horn parts in a
peculiar nasal tone, like horn notes forced
l Since published by Messrs. Elkin & Co.
12 CYRIL SCOTT
through mutes. Where and how did he attain
such tremendous powers?
Cyril Scott was born on September 27th,
1879, at Oxton (Cheshire).
He commenced to play by ear at the age of
two years and a half. Even in those early days,
he could pick up any tune or hymn he heard, and
could also improvise ; though it was not until the
age of seven that he began to write things down,
having received some instruction in musical no-
tation from his governess. He was an extreme-
ly nervous and sensitive child, and was so ill at
one time with some nervous affection that he
remained in the house for six months on end.
Strangely enough, music of a certain kind his
mother's singing, and organ music nearly al-
ways reduced him to tears. This was particu-
larly the case when he was taken to church.
Cyril Scott attributes his musical gifts to his
mother, Mary Scott, who, he says, was quite
a brilliant amateur performer in her day.
She even possessed the creative faculty to
some degree and wrote one or two waltzes.
His father, Henry Scott, on the other hand is
a Greek scholar with no special taste for music.
He was possessed even at one time with the idea
that music was not likely ever to prove a suitable
or lucrative profession for his son. Seeing, how-
THE LIFE 13
ever, that Cyril was so passionately set on be-
coming a musician, he very wisely and generous-
ly allowed him to go to Germany at the age of
twelve, where, though under age, the Hoch Kon-
servatorium at Frankfort-on-Maine took him in.
The young boy was placed with a family in that
town, and combined both music and general edu-
cation for eighteen months. In Frankfort a
friendship was begun with Mr. T. Holland-
Smith (now master of music and modern lan-
guages in Durham), then some twenty-four years
of age, and who was a student at the Konserva-
torium. He took a great interest in young
Scott, and helped to make his life happy in every
possible way, by taking him on excursions and to
concerts and operas, besides encouraging him
greatly in his musical studies. Needless to say,
for so young a boy to find such a companion of
that type was indeed a piece of good fortune. He
remembers one day when they were talking
about composition, that Holland-Smith said to
him, "In order to be a great composer a man
must invent a style." That remark stuck
in Scott's memory, and he made up his
mind that he would try to carry out the con-
ditions embodied in the phrase. This friendship
has extended over twenty-three years now r . I
understand that the music of Cyril Scott is a
14 CYRIL SCOTT
great feature of Durham musical education, and
thus Mr. Holland-Smith has done him the ser-
vice of making propaganda for him.
On his return to England, Scott was placed
with a tutor, Mr. C. H. Jeaffreson, M.A.,
of Liverpool (a brother of Rosa Newmarch),
a versatile man who presented education in
an interesting light. Young Scott enjoyed
his lessons with him in a way, he feels, he
could never have done at school. Besides
which, the boy had a curious loathing of hearing
anybody being scolded, and was so sensitive in
the matter that his parents recognised that
school-life would be torture to him ; apart from
the fact that after his Frankfort experiences, it
would be difficult to adjust him in any school-
class. Music, however, was not neglected dur-
ing this period, and Cyril Scott studied piano-
forte with the late Steudner-Welsing, a Vien-
nese, who lived for some years in Liverpool. Dur-
ing that time, the youth crossed each day in the
ferry-boat between Birkenhead and Liverpool
(Oxton, his birth-place, being a suburb of Birk-
enhead), and was noticed on his way to his
tutor by Mr. Hans Luthy, a gentleman of
Swiss origin, while walking each day to his
office. Seeing him one evening at a party given
by Mrs. Tom Fletcher, a leader in the Liverpool
THE LIFE 15
musical world, Mr. Luthy contrived to sit next
to him ; and thus began a friendship which
proved to be of great value. Both Mr. Luthy
and his wife were people of great culture, musical
and otherwise, and took young Scott into the
bosom of their family, as the phrase goes, giving
him the greatest possible encouragement. Very
numerous were the times he stayed in their hos-
pitable home. Mr. Luthy put books in his way,
and encouraged a course of reading in science,
philosophy and aesthetics, which proved of the
greatest value to the composer in after-life.
Scott feels he owes to this gentleman a debt of
gratitude which it will be impossible to repay.
It was at this time that the young musician
found it hard to make up his mind whether to
become a pianist, and concentrate all his ener-
gies in that direction, or to choose the steeper
path of becoming a composer. There was
some talk about his going to Vienna to study
with Paderewski's master, Letchetizsky, but
finally the love of composition gained the day,
and he decided, at the age of sixteen and a half,
to return to Frankfort to study with Ivan Knorr,
who was a truly great master of harmony,
counterpoint and composition.
10 CYRIL SCOTT
A few words about Knorr may prove instruc-
tive. Although Ivan Knorr was born in Mewe,
near the Polish frontier, on January 3, 1853, yet
he spent a large part of his life in Russia. He
was of a distinctly Russian appearance, had Rus-
sian sympathies (musical and otherwise), and
married a Russian. Indeed, from the age of
three, until he entered the Leipsic Conserva-
toire in 1869 to study under Reinecke, he
lived amongst the Russian people, returning
to them in 1874 as teacher of music at Khar-
koff ; so if the greatest part of his life were not
spent out of Germany, yet at any rate the most
impressionable part was ; a fact which mani-
fests itself in his music, as we shall see later.
In 1883 Knorr became Professor of Har-
mony, Counterpoint and Composition at the
Hoch Konservatorium at Frankfort-on-Maine,
where he remained until his death, becoming
Director at the retirement of Dr. Bernard Scholz
some eight or nine years ago. " You must
learn the rules," he would say to his pupils, " so
that you may know how to break them later on."
This attitude in a teacher of composition is
almost without parallel, and shows he was
not a Classicist, as most celebrated teachers
have been, but a true Romanticist. Knorr
was greater as a teacher than as a composer,
THE LIFE 17
though had he concentrated more of his energies
on composition, this might have been otherwise ;
for in every phase of his creative talent there is
an undeniable charm. He was much influ-
enced by the Russian spirit, and notably by
Tchaikovsky, for whom he entertained a great
admiration. Knorr was, in fact, a personal
friend of the Russian composer and wrote a book
on his genius, which is a masterpiece of poetic
language, free from that German heaviness so
often to be found in books of the kind. Ivan
Knorr died in 1916. He numbered amongst
his pupils several British composers Percy
Grainger, Roger Quilter, Norman O'Neill, Bal-
four Gardiner, Leonard Berwick and F. S.
Kelly. Of Knorr, Cyril Scott can never speak
gratefully enough ; for though putting him
through the rules, he encouraged originality in
a sense most composition pedagogues fail to
It was at this time that Cyril Scott met many
musical affinities ; Percy Grainger, Roger Quilter
and Norman O'Neill were among his fellow-
students. But the man who exercised the great-
est aesthetic influence on him was the German
poet, Stefan George, whom he met in his
l From an article on Ivan Knorr by Cyril Scott in the Monthly
18 CYRIL SCOTT
eighteenth year, and who made of him, so he
puts it, an artist and not merely a musician. He
proved to be the greatest personality Scott
has encountered a poet of true genius with
a face of the Dante type. Moreover, this
poet developed in Cyril Scott a passionate
love of poetry and taught him much respect-
ing the technique of that art. Through
him, he became first acquainted with the verses
of Ernest Dowson which have exercised so great
an influence on Scott's musical style of song-
writing. It was also through Stefan George that
his First Symphony was performed at Darmstadt
by the Dutch conductor Willem de Haan.
Towards his twentieth year, Scott left Frank-
fort and went back to Liverpool, having com-
posed his Symphony and one or two chamber-
music works now r destroyed. There he gave a
piano recital, and took up his residence for some
years, composing and giving a few lessons.
Here again he contracted another very import-
ant friendship. The French poet, Charles
Bonnier, w r as at the time Professor of French
Literature at the University of Liverpool.
Having met, the two finally took a house to-
gether, although Bonnier was a man much older
than Scott. He had been a great friend of
Mallarme and was thoroughly imbued with that
THE LIFE l'J
school of French poetry, as well as being a pas-
sionate lover of music. This noble and unselfish
man, as Scott designates him, was also a philoso-
pher and socialist, and their sojourn together was
one of great happiness and profit for the young
composer, for he was thus saturated with an at-
mosphere of poetry and philosophy. One day
Scott was anxious to get a translation of some
German verses which he had set to music, and
Bonnier remarked to him, "Why don't you
translate them yourself? ' And so the attempt
was made ; and to his surprise he found he could
rhyme quite easily. This incident awakened in
him the poetic faculty, and from that time to
this, whenever tired of writing music he has
turned to poetry, which interests and delights
him not a whit less than music. He regards it
as another form of music, and hazards the opinion
that the poetry of a musician must always have
a distinctive flavour about it. It is curious
that so few musicians have been poets ;
rather have painting and poetry gone hand in
hand hitherto. It was at about the age of
twenty-one that Cyril Scott began writing verse.
At that period Scott wrote the Heroic Suite
for orchestra. Hans Richter was much taken
with it and produced it in both Manchester and
Liverpool. This Suite, however, Scott came
20 CYRIL SCOTT
to regard later on as an immature work and no
longer permits a performance of it. At that time
he went over to Germany to hear his Symphony
at Darmstadt, where it was received with loud
applause mingled with hisses.
His overture to Pelleas and Melisande was per-
formed in Frankfort shortly afterwards. It is
strange how strongly this play of Maeterlinck
has stirred musicians to expression. Schonberg,
Debussy, Loeffler and others have also set
the subject to music. Scott stayed some months
in Frankfort and then visited Berlin for the first
time, being introduced by his friend Stefan
George to a literary circle there. As the result
of this visit he made the acquaintance of a great
painter and stained-glass window designer, Mel-
chior Lechter, 1 a remarkable mystic as well as
artist, another who made a great impression on
Scott, and, though much older, became a lasting
On his return to England, Cyril Scott com-
posed the Pianoforte Quartet which Kreisler and
others played at a Broad wood Concert in St.
James' Hall. This work helped to make him
known better than any other music which he had
so far composed. Messrs. Boosey & Co. then
l Melchior Lechter was born in the sixties. His paintings are of
a most ideal and spiritual type.
THE LIFE 21
began to publish his songs and also the Two
Pierrot Pieces for Piano which became fairly
popular, though he owed his first publication to
Mr. Robin Legge (now the Musical Editor of
the "Daily Telegraph"). He it was who in-
duced Forsyth to produce a series of little piano-
forte pieces. These were, however, but "nib-
blings " in the publishing line, and he only found
his most enterprising publisher when his friend,
Miss Evelyn Suart, the pianist, took up his piano
works and played them frequently, and intro-
duced him to Mr. W. A. Elkin, of Elkin & Co.
This far-sighted and gifted publisher made a con-
tract with him, and became the sole publisher of
his songs, and, for some years, of his piano pieces
as well. At this time Scott was also writing his
Second Symphony, \vhich Sir Henry J. Wood
performed at the "Promenades," where it was
extremely well received, though (for reasons
difficult to divine) it has not been given again,
in spite of many requests in the papers for fur-
ther hearings of it.
A close reading of Science and Philosophy
had continued all these years, and at the age of
twenty-five, Scott came into contact with Oc-
cultism and Eastern Mysticism, a matter which
changed the whole tenor of his inner life, and
this new interest made a great impression on his
22 CYRIL SCOTT
musical tendencies. Under the inspiration of
Mysticism, he wrote Lotus-land, Sphinx, Two
Chinese Songs, and other pieces of a like nature,
and he also began to get rid of " key-tonality '
as it is usually understood ; finding it a distinct
limitation, and preferring to write in what is
more like the "chromatic scale" than any dia-
tonic one. This led him on to another dis-
covery, that regular rhythm was also a limita-
tion ; and in his twenty-eighth year he wrote his
first work in this new style the Sonata for Vio-
lin and Piano (which Schott & Co., 1 of Mainz,
Following the Violin Sonata, he wrote in the
same non-tonal, free rhythmic style, the Piano-
forte Sonata, and then the Second Suite, after
which came The Jungle Book, Poems, Egypt,
etc. ; also some lighter pieces for violin, the
latest and best of which are the Two Sonnets.
During these years, however, he did not con-
fine his efforts to songs and smaller pieces, but
wrote a Rhapsody and also the Aubade for Or-
chestra, both being written in the newer style.
The Aubade was (with some difficulty respecting
rehearsals) pei formed in Darmstadt, Dresden
and Berlin. He also composed an Overture to
l This firm made a contract with him later on for all his violin
THE LIFE 28
Princess Maleine, with chorus a work which
was given with great success in Vienna. There
was also an Arabesque which he conducted in
Birmingham. As to chamber works, he had
reworked an old String Quartet written in
his twenty-sixth year, and this was performed a
good deal by the Rebner Quartet party in Ger-
many, the Piano Sonata being played by
Moekle at a number of German towns about the
same year, 1905. So that by this time Cyril
Scott was beginning to be pretty well known on
the Continent. Of his first two Symphonies,
No. 1 was destroyed and No. 2 became the Three
Symphonic Dances, one of which he conducted
at a Balfour-Gardiner Concert in the Queen's
Hall. About his thirty-first year he embarked
on a large choral work, Nativity Hymn (words
by Richard Crawshaw), preceded by a Christmas
Overture, a work which was to have been per-
formed in Vienna. This he completed three
years later, but owing to the war, the score and
parts are either stranded in Germany or mis-
laid elsewhere. After this he wrote the Two
Passacaglias on Irish themes for Orchestra,
which were performed by Beecham at the Phil-
harmonic Concerts. Cyril Scott regards these two
works, the Nativity Hymn and the Passacaglias,
as his most effective orchestral writings. His
24 CYRIL SCOTT
next work was the Pianoforte Quintet (per-
formed at one of his own Concerts at Bechstein
Hall), and finally came the Pianoforte Concerto
which he played at the British Festival last spring
and which reaped a great public success.
Scott's reputation on the Continent is of quite
a different order from his general recognition in
England. In this country he is largely regarded
as a composer of songs and piano pieces, whilst
abroad his songs are almost unknown, and he is
judged exclusively by his more serious works.
For one thing, it is so difficult to obtain the ade-
quate number of rehearsals in England for works
unless they are easy ; and certainly the works of
Cyril Scott can hardly be so described. Yet it
is a very discouraging feature about British music
that even when a large work has reaped a great
success in England, it is rarely heard again.
Why is this?
THE MAN HIMSELF
THE MAN HIMSELF
LET me attempt some estimate of the man him-
self. First, the outer man. He is of medium
height and of a spareness bordering on the fra-
gile. His head is small some think this is a
never-failing sign of the spiritual man ; his face
contains at times the benign sadness of enlight-
ened middle-age; at others, it is radiant with
youth, and sometimes is even lit with a spark of
what can only be called "impishness." The
features are finely cut, and (helped by his habit
of always wearing a stock tie) suggest a Georgian
type, though he is clean shaven and does not
allow himself that affected revival of the side-
whiskers. His hands are small and beautifully
shaped, apparently quite inadequate in size and
strength to the prodigious effect which they can
produce on the keyboard.
That Cyril Scott's interests are not those of
28 CYRIL SCOTT
the average man, goes without saying. His con-
ception of his art places him at once above banali-
ties ; but even beyond this, he has obtained by
years of study, coupled with marvellous intuitive
faculties, a knowledge of the superphysical
realms which causes him to stand aloof from the
ordinary tempestuous life of the artist. His life
and work both show a certain poise a detach-
ment from the frets and worries of this world,
and a deeper insight and understanding of the
fuller life of the soul. His inspiration comes from
higher spiritual sources than that of the man who
is flung from one earthly sensation to another,
tossed by his emotions, as by the waves of a rough
sea. It has been said by one who knows him well
that Cyril Scott is a hundred years in advance of
his age. Time alone can prove this ; but inasmuch
as one hopes for the development of man on the
lines of greater sanity, kindness, and unselfish
love, his outlook would seem to form a pattern
for a more perfect type. His kindness and gen-
erosity are unending, and always accompanied
by the tact that comes from understanding and
sympathy. He has been called a poseur by a
few acquaintances whose imagination cannot in-
clude the possibility of an order of mind so differ-
ent from their own. And yet never was man
more utterly natural. His directness is some-
THE MAN HIMSELF 29
times disconcerting to those accustomed to a
cotton-wool wrapping of conventionality in their
views of men, music and things. Perhaps this
inclination to regard him as a poseur also arises
from his surroundings, for he chooses to live in
what cannot be called otherwise than a distinctly
ecclesiastical atmosphere. Nor does he stop
short at Gothic and ascetic furniture enhanced
by beautiful stained-glass windows, designed by
Burne- Jones and presented to him by a valued
friend, but candidly avows his fondness for
the smell of incense, which he is constantly
burning. "I like the ecclesiastical atmo-
sphere," he remarks, "because in it I feel as if
I might be anywhere ; in Italy, in the country,
or in some remote region, in a past generation
even." To call a man a poseur then, because
he elects to surround himself with those forms of
beauty which especially appeal to him and assist
him in his work, is merely shortsighted.
Much more could be said of his interesting
personality, but the lover of his music and of his
poetry will find in his works the best exposition
of this richly-endowed nature.
My personal acquaintance with Cyril Scott
dates back hardly longer than eighteen months,
and my friendship with him not more than the
same number of weeks. It was only after I had
30 CYRIL SCOTT
conceived the idea of a book on his music (the
more important part of which seemed to me
very inadequately known) that I really got to
know the man, and only then little by little as
the book progressed. The fulfilment of my re-
quest that he should visit me, gave me the oppor-
tunity for a much better knowledge of him. So
it will be seen that my admiration was not the
result of a violent attachment at first sight, but is
a much more natural growth. No other way
can I imagine possible with such a personality
as Scott ; for to my mind there is a distinct
reserve about him, which I for one, at any
rate, was loth to put down to conceit. This
is not one of his vices. Talking " small talk "
to comparative strangers he finds of almost insur-
mountable difficulty. On the other hand, he
has not the smallest compunction in making new
friends, and these, by no means, need be musical.
Indeed, as a rule, musical conversation bores him
intensely, and he has it against the ordinary mu-
sician that his outlook is far too limited, and that
he is much too fond of " talking shop." Scott's
most absorbing interest in life is transcendental
philosophy ; and discussing occult lore and kin-
dred subjects with a friend of like tastes is one of
his greatest pleasures : a divertissement which
he calls "soulful intercourse." Nevertheless
THE MAN HIMSELF 31
with him philosophy is not something cold and
remote, but a study which helps him to under-
stand more and more the whole of human nature.
Philosophy has enlarged his heart, and although
he does not reveal himself to the casual passer-by,
the area of his interests is a vast one.
In music, however, his affections seem, at first,
very limited ; and as he himself has stated that
a man's creative style is largely the outcome of his
admirations, it will be instructive to glance at
his preferences. They begin with Bach (and
Scarlatti to a lesser degree), and then comes a big
hiatus until Chopin and Wagner. He confesses
that both Mozart and Beethoven do not appeal
to him, " except a bar or two here and there."
Neither do Schubert nor Schumann as a whole,
though he prefers these later composers to
the earlier ones. Strange as it may sound, Mo-
zart and Beethoven give him an * ' unpleasant
sense of childishness." To him, Beethoven
seems to have lived in an unfortunate age to
have been a great man born at a time when musi-
cal expression was somewhat childish. He tried
to break away from this, but the barren age was
too strong for him. Apart from Beethoven's
last string quartets, Cyril Scott cannot feel
any enthusiasm for his compositions. They seem
bald and thin, striving to be grand and majestic,
32 CYRIL SCOTT
which they surely were in their day, but sounding
in our present time, too obvious and often banal.
In other words, he " has not worn well." Bach
on the other hand has ; the polyphony and con-
tinual flow of his music is very impressive, like
the ceaseless rhythm of the sea. He was great
in everything ; a great harmonist, a great melo-
dist, a great polyphonist. Beethoven (he asserts)
was no harmonist. Wagner he finds all-satisfy-
ing; and entirely monumental in his great
operas, i.e., Tristan, The Ring, and The Master-
singers. He calls Wagner the " Shakespeare of
music." As to Tchaikovsky, there was a time
when Scott drew much from him, but that com-
poser also " wears badly," and he soon grew out
of him. He considers this Russian master lacks
the subtle touches, his melodies being on the
whole too obvious, though sometimes very
beautiful. The Pianoforte Concerto and his
Romeo and Juliet Overture " have some ex-
quisite things in them." He regards the Rus-
sian composer though as a much more progres-
sive influence than Brahms.
Many critics have talked of Cyril Scott's kin-
ship with Debussy, but the French master him-
self can see no similarity at all, whilst showing the
greatest sympathy for Scott's music. Debussy
seems certainly to have influenced Scott in some
THE MAN HIMSELF 33
ways ; and, as has been well said, Debussy is such
an exquisite artist, such a wonderful creator
of poetic mystic tints, a harmonist moreover of
epoch-making originality, that he surely may
only be ignored by those too ungifted to have
been healthily tempted by such generous oppor-
Bizet fills Scott with delight and he prefers
him to Beethoven, because Bizet has an element
which appeals to him and which is lacking in
Beethoven's music. Chopin was a wonderful
creator, having so little to guide him into the
new tracts ; a marvellous modernist in his time.
Scott owes as much to Richard Strauss as to
Debussy; the Violin Sonata and also the
Piano Sonata show as it were a combination of
these two masters as founts of inspiration.
Debussy, he thinks, is always " a little too
precieux," and in these Sonatas, Cyril Scott
mingled the two atmospheres and thus gained
a certain source of inspiration from them in an
indirect sort of way. The Rhapsody for Orches-
tra has something of the same elements. De-
bussy likes this best of all Scott's orchestral
works. Brahms on the other hand except for
his songs does not appeal to Scott much, nor
does Max Reger, a mere " elongation of
Brahms." The brilliant Stravinsky fills him
34 CYRIL SCOTT
with admiration. . Scriabin he considers had
great promise, but he died " whilst still a man-
nerist. The result was monotony. Had he
lived, he would perhaps have got beyond manner-
ism." Prometheus struck him as a great work.
Like Scriabin, Scott looks to music as a means
to carry further the spiritual evolution of the
race, and believes that it has occult properties
of \vhich only a few enlightened people are
aware. He has discussed this subject at length
in the final chapter of his Philosophy of Modern-
ism in Music. Owing to his associations with
many psychics of great powers, he considers that
music exhibits both thought-forms and colour
to the psychic sight of the listener.
If his admirations in the musical arena be
thought limited, they are equally so in the liter-
ary. Apart from Shakespeare and Keats and a
few old ballads, he derives no pleasure from the
older poets at all. Indeed, he has a genuine
admiration for three poets only Francis Thomp-
son, Ernest Dowson and Stefan George. Critics
have tried to find some similarity between Swin-
burne and Scott, but Swinburne does not appeal
to him, and he certainly would not care to imitate
Many of these keenly-expressed criticisms and
admirations of Cyril Scott may make strange
THE MAN HIMSELF 35
reading to some, but we should remember that
the individual talent cannot appreciate all forms
of greatness. Chopin did not like Beethoven ;
nor Tchaikovsky, Bach, and so on.
As a pianoforte virtuoso, Cyril Scott has a re-
markable talent, and he has also a natural gift
for conducting a faculty frequently absent
from composers. Still more rare in musicians
is the ability to lecture well, a gift which Scott
certainly possesses. One of his best discourses
is a very novel treatment of Wagner, combining
the mystic interpretations presented by Alice
Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump with the
more socialistic aspects of Bernard Shaw, and
enlarging and emphasizing certain points by this
conjunction of aspects, showing what a variety
and depth of meaning is to be found in the extra-
ordinary mentality of the combined musical,
dramatic and poetic genius of Wagner.
ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS
ORCHESTRAL AND CHORAL WORKS
FOR a correct appraisement of the music of
Cyril Scott we must first take the larger
works. These comprise compositions both of
the earliest and latest periods. His First
Symphony has been relegated to oblivion. His
second one, highly esteemed in its time, has been
transformed into the Three Orchestral Dances,
though, according to the composer himself (in
spite of Percy Grainger 's admiration especially
for the first one), not one of them is representa-
tive. We do not feel that any great degree of
orchestral maturity had been achieved until about
his thirtieth year, when Scott began to write such
works as the Overture to Princess Maleine, the
Aubade, the Rhapsody, the Christmas Overture
and Nativity Hymn. True it is that three of
these productions the Aubade, the Princess
40 CYRIL SCOTT
Maleine, and the Christmas Overture, were
re workings of previous versions, but such a
rewriting meant a complete transformation,
and apart from certain of the most successful
themes, the versions are hardly to be recognised.
All three had already been performed in
their original state by Sir Henry Wood, Sir
Thomas Beecham and Mr. Landon Ronald ; but
that did not prevent the composer from withhold-
ing them from further performance. On the
contrary, it stimulated him to rework them. It
would be hard to say which is the happiest of
these three works, for they are all so different in
atmosphere. The Princess Maleine seems un-
doubtedly to have achieved the mystic, pre-Ra-
phaelite element of Maeterlinck's dramatic play.
This work, it may also be mentioned, in spite of
bearing the title "Overture," is as near to a
"Symphonic Poem" as Scott has ever ap-
proached. It is a drama in music archaic in
parts, pictorial, tranquil at times, and wildly
emotional at others there is a picturesque re-
ligiosity about it ; and in its melodious portions,
the cantilene sections are of unusual length.
Whereas the a capella chorale at the end presents
the quintessence of archaism in spite of a quite
anacronistic use of the " 6-4 chord.'
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 41
Scott owes the performance of this work in
Vienna to Frau Gustav Mahler, who corres-
ponded with him as the result of the perform-
ance of his Violin Sonata with Professor Rose
of the famous Rose Quartet, and her en-
thusiasm respecting this work was so great that
she waived all conventions and wrote to Scott,
asking him to relate his history, aims and achieve-
ments. The outcome of this was a journey to
Vienna later on, when Frau Mahler, collecting
42 CYRIL SCOTT
all the musical and other celebrities of that artistic
city, feted Scott and made arrangements for the
performance of some of his work. The Overture
had a great success, and arrangements were pend-
ing for the production of the Nativity Hymn for
large chorus and orchestra when war broke out,
the MS. being stranded somewhere in the enemy
But to return to our analysis. The Christmas
Overture, as its title suggests, presents the at-
mosphere of Yule-tide with the usual concomi-
tants of that season, though with the less obvious
idealism in addition. Beginning with a novel
harmonization of the carol, Good King Wences-
las, it proceeds with a joyous figure of chimes over
an organ-point, finally bursting forth into bells
of a more real order. This constitutes the
introduction which after a little while subsides,
and is followed by a theme of characteristic
length and idealism, breaking off after a time for
the exposition of a lively little folksong in dance-
metre. The composer then juggles with the
themes for a time, including snatches of Good
King Wenceslas; until utilising his bell-figure
for a great working-up, he gradually begins to in-
terject See the Conquering Hero Comes, bringing
the work (after a fugato) to a gigantic climax,
with that well-known tune of Handel dressed in
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 43
modern harmony. As to the Nativity Hymn
intended to follow upon this introductory over-
ture, the score not being available, we are com-
pelled to omit any analysis. This is especially
unfortunate, as the work in question has a magni-
tude which outstretches all the other Scott works.
We are in the same position respecting the
Rhapsody, which Debussy regards with great ad-
miration, having heard it in Paris. In this case,
the score is in Petrograd awaiting performance.
We now turn to the Aubade, Op. 77, written
in 1911, which has been performed at Darm-
stadt, Berlin, Dresden, and other cities. It is
an exquisite tone-poem descriptive of the mood
of a peaceful morning. With quite a light
orchestra, the composer limns his moods with
growing fervour. Most of the work is very sub-
dued, as one might imagine, since the name Au-
bade indicates a serenade of the morning ; a
joyous strain wherewith to waken a beloved
sleeper unto the day. The melodies are very long,
and are suggestive of a restrained passion and
yearning. The rhythm is not of that regularity
which makes performance easy the conductor,
in fact, has his task set, with the varying 5-8,
4-8, 3-8, the logic of which device is apparent
when long-drawn melodies are abundant. In
form the piece may be regarded as one of gradual
44 CYRIL SCOTT
expansion and diminution, dying away to the
little calm sad figure of the commencement.
Amongst his very finest works are the Piano-
forte Concerto (given at the London Festival of
British Music in 1915) and the Two Passacaglias
on Irish Themes for orchestra, which were first
given by Beecham at the Royal Philharmonic
Society's Concerts in 1916. These three pieces
are in the composer's most advanced style.
The Pianoforte Concerto was written in the
winter of 1913 and the spring months of 1914.
The idea of writing a modern concerto a la
Tchaikovsky had never appealed to him; and
when finally he was drawn to this form of music,
the work appeared entirely on unconventional
lines. In fact, he admits that until the idea of
treating the Concerto on what he himself called
''rather Bach-like lines" occurred to him, he
had relinquished all hopes of ever writing one.
Although his own description of it is ' ' Im-
pressions of Bach, taken while on a supposed
journey to China." Truth to tell, it is hardly
like Bach at all. One might say the last
movement is more like " Handel transported into
the present generation." Performed with great
success at Sir Thomas Beecham's 1914 British
Music Season in London, with the composer at
the piano, it seems up to the present to have
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 45
shared the fate of so many of the finest works
of British composers here ; for at the time of
writing, this has been its only public perform-
ance. The war has suspended negotiations for
a performance in Russia.
The work opens with a strong vibrant note on
the orchestra, upon which the solo instrument
immediately makes a majestic entry with some
powerful chords. This is followed by a passage
of great vigour. A rippling glissade of musical
mosaics a veritable cascade of opals gives a
strikingly opalescent touch, and the movement
gets w r ell under way with a brilliant strong-
ly marked theme on the piano. The slightly
Chinese atmosphere which gives such a distinct
perfume to the second subject, can be traced to
the Chinese Songs (notably the Picnic) and also
to the first Sonnet for violin and piano.
Snatches of plaintive melodies now abound and
the music scintillates with radiant hues. Space
forbids me to describe the many beauties and
masterly touches, but the remarkable intensity
of the melody for solo viola arid oboe forms a
prominent feature. The brilliance of the piano-
forte part, particularly in this movement, has to
my mind never been equalled in the whole range
of concertos hitherto. An atmosphere of mystic
meditation rests over the whole of the slow move-
46 CYRIL SCOTT
ment, and the themes appear in light relief over
a continuous bourdon of distant evanescent bell-
tones. It is a profound twilight meditation, into
which tender flute-like melodies gently insinuate
themselves. The movement dies away in soft
soothing harmonies, a few stray resonances
lingering (as though loth to depart) before the
whole is gently wafted away.
The utmost brilliancy is the leading note of
the Finale, the whole movement being perme-
ated with a joyous vitality and bustling good
humour. The texture glows with gorgeous
hues, and bell- tones form a rich back-ground.
There is a wonderful verve about the movement,
which is charmingly orchestrated by a thorough
master of orchestral colouring. Celesta,
Campanella, Harp and Piano are all requis-
itioned in combination, to add to the brilliancy
of this scintillating movement. Towards the
end a gossamer-like veil of tone is as it were
drawn over the vivacious leaping subject, which
then broadens out gradually into the majestic
harmony of the opening of the Concerto. The
theme of the slow second movement reappears,
only to expand into the return of the powerful
motive, and the work ends in the most brilliant
manner possible, with a clash of percussion on a
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 47
This work will certainly come to occupy a
high place amongst Pianoforte Concertos. It pos-
sesses amazing originality from beginning to end.
The themes are masterly, the orchestration ex-
quisite, and the form splendidly balanced. The
first and last movements are cast on the usual
Sonata lines. But how wonderfully modern is
the expression and emotion of this piece, and
with what gorgeous raiment has the composer
clothed the whole ! Hide-bound pedants, w r ho
have heard little of Cyril Scott's music, frequent-
ly say that it is too restless in tonality. To my
mind, if there be one flaw in this Concerto, it is,
if anything, too tenacious of the key-note. With
its tender confidences, one feels one would like
the slow movement to go on longer, and for
this perhaps a slight detour to some other tonic
would be welcome. Here, Cyril Scott's music
is comparable to no other. There is nothing of
Debussy here, nothing of Strauss ; it is the com-
poser himself. In the last movement for four
bars only there is a very striking co-incidence
with a favourite mood of Scriabin. But Cyril
Scott at the time of writing knew nothing of
Scriabin, and the momentary co-incidence is only
interesting to a keen student of both composers.
The Two Passacaglias, notwithstanding their
brevity, are undoubtedly the composer's high-
est orchestral achievements. There he would
seem to have drained the orchestra of every
possibility, and the result is remarkable and
most impressive. The two airs used are the
Irish Famine Song, that deeply sad lament al-
most heartrending in its intensity, and the Poor
Irish Boy, which one gathers was originally a sad
and sedate melody, but which Scott has used in
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 49
rapid tempo and produced a piece of feet-quick-
ening vivacity, almost amounting to riotousness.
The Famine Song begins very modestly, given
out in octaves on the double basses ; then the time
is transferred to the middle register and clothed
in some of the best progressions Cyril Scott has
If we scrutinize the musical quotation closely,
we discover that, although the melody may be
in a key itself, the tout ensemble gives the idea
of no tonality, or else a very elusive one. Nearly
every chord is in a different scale ; the first chord
being in C ; the second in E minor ; the third in
A flat major ; the fourth, E minor ; the fifth, C
again; then E flat, and again C, and so on.
Nevertheless, in one sense the whole phrase is in
D minor, for should one place a cadence at its
close, it could not well be the Tonic of C, but
of D minor or else G major. The passacaglias
are full of such harmonic problems, in fact. As
to the form, a passacaglia is so simple (the tune
being in one part or another throughout the
whole work) that little need be said ; but certainly
the composer has used every harmonic, contra-
puntal and orchestral device to lend variety to his
subject. The organ is employed in the finish-
ing climax with as grandiose and overwhelming
effect as in Scriabin's Prometheus, the volume
50 CYRIL SCOTT
of sound being so great, some one said, as to
become tearfully affecting.
The Passacaglia No. II presents a strong con-
trast. Here the composer uses every species of
percussive instrument, including a grand piano.
The score consists of about 42 staves, and as the
result sounds are produced which have never
been heard before. Certainly both Cyril Scott
and Percy Grainger have exhibited the aug-
mented possibilities of the Passacaglia and
brought this old form into favour once again.
Whether others will readily follow in their foot-
steps remains to be seen.
Finally we turn to Cyril Scott's latest choral
work his setting of Keat's renowned Ballad,
La belle Dame sans Merci. The Cantata was
originally written for Soprano and Baritone solos
and orchestra some eight years ago. The com-
poser, later on, came to regard the work as some-
what immature, although many portions of it
still appealed to him ; so in the winter of 1915-16
the idea of turning it into a choral work struck
him and he could thus realize the possibility of ad-
ding much more colour to the beauty of Keat's
poem. Certainly the result has been extremely
happy, for there were many strings on Keat's
lute which found a ready sympathetic resonance
in the heart of Cyril Scott, who has a strong af-
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 51
finity with this poet. The work is replete with a
certain archaic mysticism, and the atmosphere of
"the cold hill-side" is strongly emphasized by
his music. There is a feeling of intense desola-
L 1 1 r
# j j ^
-J . \
tion and sadness about the whole cantata, and
even in its gayer passages there remains an under-
tone of tragedy.
The chorus gives the sensation of a great moan-
ing. Novel effects of choral writing have here
been presented notably the altos divided in con-
secutive seconds, the gruff ness of which proced-
ure being considerably mollified by the rest of
the harmony appearing on the orchestra.
Passages in chromatic major thirds seem to
suggest the soughing of the wind over bleak
and the music ends with a note of utter deso-
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 53
As to other orchestral works there are
several which we may mention to show that
Scott was never orchestrally idle ; but we
must add he has withdrawn them all, and thus
they have no practical value now ; although they
have helped to make his name, and found favour
in the eyes of no less a conductor than Hans Rich-
ter. The two Symphonies have already been
mentioned. There was also a large Magnificat
for chorus, soli, and orchestra. Then followed
the Heroic Suite performed by Richter in Man-
chester and Liverpool. After which came the
Idyllic Suite, the Overture to Pelleas and Meli-
sande, a Pianoforte Concerto in D, the Second
Overture to Pelleas and Melisande, the Overture
to Aglavaine and Selysette, an Arabesque, and
the Two Rhapsodies for Orchestra. Not all of
these works were performed, for the Magnificat,
the First Piano Concerto, and Overture to Agla-
vaine and Selysette never entered the concert
hall, nor did the Second Rhapsody. The other
works, however, have been performed in Lon-
don, Bournemouth, Bath, Birmingham, Frank-
fort, and other places.
It will be seen that Cyril Scott is always very
critical of his own productions. Unlike Strauss,
he will not suffer performances of things which
he knows to be immature and unworthy. " They
54 CYRIL SCOTT
were good exercises," he remarks, "and I
amused myself by writing them, but I certainly
never wish to hear them, and would spare others
doing so as well."
ORCHESTRAL & CHORAL WORKS 55
1 $ * . , ,, ... n
Facsimile of Cyril Scott's Handwriting, 1916,
(Rough sketch of an unpublished work).
THE smallness of the number of Scott's contri-
butions to Chamber-music is amply atoned for
by their intrinsic value and fine quality ; and chief
among them stands' the Quintet for Piano and
Strings. In this domain we are confronted once
more with the composer's critical, even hyper-
critical attitude towards his own works. For
of the many things he has produced, only the
Quintet and the Violin Sonata (which, owing to
its magnitude and importance, must come under
this heading) remain as valid in the composer's
estimation. Indeed, he would withdraw the
Pianoforte Quartet in E minor were it not
published and so safely outside the dangers
of his fire-place. In short, Scott has been very
active in chamber-music production, but equally
active in his policy of destruction. There have
60 CYRIL SCOTT
been a Pianoforte Trio, two String Quartets, a
Pianoforte Quintet (written at the age of
twenty-one), a Violin Sonata (written soon after-
wards), and then the Piano Quartet. 1 None of
these, however, save the last, are extant, even the
Quartet played so much on the Continent being
laid aside for a reworking.
The Quintet, written in 1911-12, was originally
a sextet which the composer conceived at the age
of twenty-five ; but as it struck him, later on, thai-
parts of it were inadequate, he bethought him
to take its best portions and convert it into a
Quintet. The lovely opening melody of the
first movement breathes an exquisite ideality,
and is not without an undercurrent of longing for
further exultation. Those who have but a super-
ficial acquaintance with Cyril Scott's works, and
those others who charge the composer with a
lack of melodiousness, should here note this won-
derfully long-breathed melody which sings on
for not less than 41 bars without any feeling of a
break. Easements of melodic tension there are,
but they merely serve as poises for a further
flight. It is significant that such a long thread
of melodic invention can only be sustained by the
use of irregular measures 4-8, 5-8, 4-4, and so
1 Boosey & Co
CHAMBER MUSIC 61
on. A short episode which foreshadows the
second theme of the final section (7-8 time), here
given by the strings only, is wistful and longing,
and works up to the Free Fantasia portion, which
is consummated in an enormous climax just be-
fore the return of the opening theme. The
second theme on its final appearance is accom-
panied by a high pendulous counter-melody on
the violin. The last echo of this theme is gradu-
ally accelerated until, quite naturally and without
a break of any kind, it has become transformed
to the Allegro grazioso ma non troppo of the
It has been stated that the music of Cyril Scott
is lacking in form ; on the contrary, the construc-
tion and design, in his larger works particularly,
is exceedingly fine, well balanced, logical, and
satisfying. The whole of the Quintet is one
continuous piece, although according very closely
to so-called Sonata form considerably elaborated.
The idea of the four movements of the so-called
classical Sonata which have little or hardly any
connection with one another, does indeed seem
to leave something lacking and certainly is not
very logical. So it may be noted that in all Cyril
Scott's works written in Sonata form, he intro-
duces an echo or recapitulation, in some manner
'62 CYRIL SCOTf
or other, of all the previous chief themes, into
the development section of the final movement.
This device may set the pattern for the Sonata
form of the future, just as Beethoven when con-
necting the first and second themes of his first
movement in contra-distinction to Mozart, set
the pattern for the sonata-form for his successors.
The second movement is flavoured with a
remote gaiety, and the muted instruments em-
phasize and intensify the feeling that the exult-
ation is on some other plane than the purely
physical one. After some time, a new melody
of a singing character enters on the viola (now
unmuted). On the return of the first gay theme,
the piano has a subject of that sparkling, scintil-
lating nature which is characteristic of Cyril
Scott in his gayer moods. This section gradu-
ally transforms the joyful theme in a \vonderf ul
way into the leading subject of the slow move-
ment, a piece of fervent intensity. The first
seven-bar phrase, given out in similar motion by
the strings alone, is given on the next page.
One of the most moving passages in the
Quintet follows. The 'cello has a melody in its
most penetrating register and is followed by the
violin with even greater intensity, the theme be-
ing finally taken up and carried on to the whole
of the strings. A new theme enters and yet not
entirely new, for there is a subtle feeling of its
having been evolved and therefore become in-
evitable. Moreover, in this exalted mood
we rarely get anything like a definite ca-
dence. The music surges, streams, or bubbles
with an endless sort of rhythm as of the
sea. Sustained power of thought, and length
of melodic line, are after all the great tests of a
composer's worth. Now an unexpected little
intermezzo comes breaking forth and dances
along uninterruptedly until the original theme
begins to insinuate itself, at first very subtly, but
finally gaining such power that the figure of the
Intermezzo is completely ousted. The whole of
the beautiful chromatic passage recurs here
and mounts up to a climax which only gradually
subsides to emerge in the Finale.
This is an Allegro con molto spirito, almost
impossible to describe in words, opening in the
following manner :
con molfo spirito
CHAMBER MUSIC 65
The second subject, in a mood of high ecstasy
on the violin, has that soaring, seething richness
of Strauss in feeling, but different in texture.
Another theme now enters, the first indication of
which occurred towards the end of the second
theme of the Scherzo movement. Then comes
a rapid marshalling of all the chief themes of the
Quintet, which brings the work to a culmination
of exceeding majesty and brilliancy. The Coda
ends with a long ringing note of majestic tri-
In his Violin Sonata, the most difficult and
modern of all works for this combination of in-
struments (barring, perhaps, Ornstein's), the
composer has, contrary to his usual custom, di-
vided the music into four definite movements.
The last movement, however, brings in a re-
capitulation of the themes of all the previous
movements. The number of lovely cantabile
melodies gives the work a certain peaceful
charm, a restful feeling which recalls Cesar
Franck in some of his moods. But there is far
more action in this music of Cyril Scott than in
any work of the French composer, the constantly
shifting harmonies giving a sense of activity
which music, of an earlier period fails to do, at
any rate now that the dust of a few years has des-
cended upon it. The opening theme is of a re-
06 CYRIL SCOTT
markable energy, full of almost violent rhythm
comprised with an emphatic harmony. The
composer is here hitting straight from the shoul-
der, just as Frank Brangwyn does in his decora-
tive pictures. Although some people style Cyril
Scott precieux, his larger works are replete with
a vigour as remote from all " preciousness " as
it is possible to imagine.
The form of the first movement of this Sonata
is so closely welded that theme passes into theme,
and development into development, without any
possible break. This might lead one to sup-
pose that there is an element of monotony in the
music ; but it is not so, t for there are periods of
restfulness which suggest a pause without any
sense of break in thought, or in harmonic flow.
As to the coda, its power and majesty seem
almost overwhelming, while the only musi-
cal analogy to such superb richness of pianoforte
scoring is the wealth of orchestration to be found
in the later operas of Richard Strauss. Someone
has likened the third movement, which may be
called a Scherzo, to the playfulness of monkeys
in a tropical forest, and certainly it affords the
strongest possible contrast to the exotic melan-
choly of the second movement. From the Scher-
zando point of view, this is something entirely
new, owing to the constant change of rhythm
CHAMBER MUSIC 07
and the mixture of song and dance elements, stri-
dent exclamations jostling freely against poetical
phrases truly a veritable medley of moods. The
finale has a dual significance. Whilst its proper
themes rise easily to the high level of the pre-
ceding lyricism, it also serves as an arena for all
the subjects from the other movements. Near
the end there is a Fugato which attains its full
climactic power in the introduction of the theme
of the second movement.
The list of first-class modern Sonatas for the
violin and piano is certainly circumscribed, and
this contribution of Cyril Scott therefore should
be doubly welcome to concert artists of the first
rank. My one criticism is that the evolution of
musical form tends to render the re-statement of
themes at any length in the recapitulatory sec-
tions unnecessary. Why repeat anything at all
when one's memory carries it in mind? Still,
perhaps this reflection is somewhat unnecessary
with regard to Scott, since many find his music
not always easy to follow, and his themes
too far removed from the obvious to dispense
entirely with the necessity for recapitulation.
THE SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS
THE SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS
I AM inclined to think that it is largely owing to
what Cyril Scott has called "the strange musical
constitution of England " that he composes so
many pieces in smaller forms, especially piano
pieces and songs. The difficulty of publishing
larger dimensional works in this country is
considerable. I believe that if this were
otherwise we should find Cyril Scott known
in Great Britain far less as a specialist for the
piano and voice, than as a composer of very
fine chamber music and orchestral works. In-
deed, should things ever change in this country,
as far as musical appreciation (and hence pub-
lishing) is concerned, I believe the output of
Scott's smaller works would become less and
For some reason or other, difficult to divine,
Cyril Scott's best works for the piano are not
72 CYRIL SCOTT
those best known ; and I know that I must face
the tribunal of public opinion in choosing the
pieces for mention in this chapter. I would
suggest to those, who may feel a little aggrieved
at not finding the names of many piano pieces
which are their favourites, that it is better to
learn of something new than to be told of what
we already know.
Two of the most interesting sets of pianoforte
pieces are the cycle called Egypt and the
set of Five Impressions from the Jungle Book.
The Egyptian cycle is widely differentiated
in style from that of the Jungle Book Im-
pressions, although it is difficult to describe the
difference in words. Whilst he has realised in
the Jungle the Indian atmosphere in a degree
never before attained, the Egpytian suite is en-
veloped in a much deeper mysticism.
The first number of Egypt, called In the
Temple of Memphis, opens with slow, mysterious,
insinuating figures, suggestive of double flutes.
The music increases in eloquence, expression and
sonority, the underlined major thirds giving a
pleasant, reedy and pastoral feeling, whilst
the whole-tone steps impart an indefinable
weirdness. The piece reaches a majestic climax
of the utmost force, the wind instruments, as it
were, veritably shrieking out their shrill, sharp
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 73
skirl. The climax gradually relapses into almost
complete inertness, whilst the little opening fig-
ure is gently breathed forth in low flute-like tones.
The second piece opens with a simple tran-
quil scale passage in whole-tones, alternating
throughout with the quasi bustling figures in
"broken fourths" and sixths, which constitute
the real material of the movement. At first
sight the impressionistic sketch, By the Waters
of the Nile, looks as though it were closely related
to the " Chinese chop-sticks " figures of the Con-
certo and other pieces, but the sound and feeling
of these fourths is quite distinct, the lower har-
mony here adding a strong quality of Eastern
mysticism. The slightly accentuated episode
in the middle affords the only instance in the
whole of Cyril Scott's music, where the realism
to my mind seems pushed to a crude and barbar-
ous stage. But it is probable that the composer in-
tended this effect, since he insists on it again later
on. Such a complaint certainly cannot be made
with regard to the exquisite and suave Egyptian
Boat Song, the slow languidity of which seems
full of lotus-land charm. The simple little theme
of five notes gives birth to the whole piece ; from
it springs a melody of long delicious curve, under-
lined in major thirds throughout. The music
is wonderfully vivid ; mirages of distant mosques,
74 CYRIL SCOTT
roseate with a luminous haze, rise before the
eyes. The rocking of the darghah is always
present and the slow plaint of the flutes com-
pletes the warm, languorous picture.
The Funeral March of the Great Raamses is
richly informed with highly-coloured pageantry ;
the continually-changing tonalities, like moving
colours in a kaleidoscope, conjure up a pic-
ture of some sumptuous procession, painted
in flaming colours which run into one another
almost to the point of blurring. But a majestic
change of "key-colour" with an emphatic,
trumpet-like passage, reminds us that this was
one great among the kings of the earth. The
Funeral procession gradually passes from sight
I have played through Song of the Spirits of
the Nile, the final piece in the set, but I cannot
find any meaning in it. It appears to me nothing
but a piece of exaggerated mannerism ; the idea
in the composer's mind does not "get over the
footlights." But it is quite likely if one pos-
sessed the clue to it, that it would appear differ-
ently. Certainly this set Egypt is more subtle
than any other music of Scott. The spirit of
pageantry, the love of strong colours, and the
cunning charm of Egypt lies drowsily over all
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 75
The Jungle opens with a slow, mysterious
melody of low pitch poised over an incessantly
bourdonning pedal-figure. This suggests that
dull, continuous, murmuring note, which is
the subtle, never silent bourdon of the jungle.
Over it, the melody slowly and subtly de-
velops in ever-extending curves, only broken into
occasionally by a shrill motive : the chatter of a
monkey or the scream of a parroquet. The
main melody moves majestically on, at length
fading away as subtly as it was evolved.
Dawn, a lyric movement, opens with a skirl
on some reed-like instrument. The melody de-
velops with a pastoral feeling and with that
strange curvilinear melodic style which the com-
poser shares with Debussy alone.
In the third impression, Rikki-tikki-tavi,
the composer is obviously aiming at a very defin-
ite picture of the fight between Kipling's
little mongoose and the maliciously-minded
snake. The conflict waxes severe and the deft,
darting movements of the two animals fighting
to the death are admirably portrayed. A strik-
ing change occurs in the music at the part marked
"lovingly," when Rikki-tikki-tavi is received
joyfully back into the bosom of the white
man's family. But all this is not marked in the
76 CYRIL SCOTT
music, for the composer assumes that everyone
knows this Kipling story well.
The harmonic colouring is frequently of that
lithographic vividness which one associates with
the sunshine and the glaring skies of the East*
The movements of the snake are astoundingly
real, and this reminds me of a story which I re-
ceived at first hand from the pianist concerned.
When in Jamaica he was playing the Eikki-
tikki-tavi and the Snake piece one Sunday
afternoon in his verandah room, when his
wife came in and quietly asked him to continue
playing and to look round. He did so, and saw
a live snake gyrating in graceful folds in time
\vith the music, which it was enjoying thor-
In the Dance of the Elephants, the weirdness
of Kipling's story is intensified and rendered
none the less captivating. The left hand is di-
rected to be played always a little louder than the
right, and these low, heavy fifths convey admir-
ably the impression of the clumsily padding hoofs
of the beasts holding their nocturnal festival, at-
tempting to be graceful in the depth of the forest.
A perverse sort of whole-tone scale winds up
this vivid set of pieces, in which pathos, pictur-
esqueness, poetry and a certain impishness are
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 77
Even the more perceptive members of the pub-
lic are a little loth to accept a man equally favour-
ably in a dual role. In one of the very best sets
of pianoforte pieces Poems it is difficult to
say whether Cyril Scott's creations in verse, or
the reproduction of the soul-states in music, reach
the higher level. Such a set will only yield up
its secret to the most sensitive temperaments;
but to them, these five poems are amongst the
most highly-prized pieces by this composer. A
poem preceded each piece, and it is an interesting
78 CYRIL SCOTT
occupation to decide whether the poetry or the
music achieves the mood with the greater deli-
cacy and the surer touch.
Poppies is a languid Lento, full of deep ex-
pression and founded on chords of broken
fourths, played una corda. Little flute-like
melodies of a strikingly characteristic curvilinear
character intervene at intervals. A slight ripple
of increased emotion occurs in the middle, and
the song ends with the merest waft of colour on
the swaying breeze. In The Garden of Soul-Sym-
pathy, which is perhaps still more elusive, the
composer rhapsodises "in soul-knit gladness,"
and harmonious visions of wondrous colour move
majestically over the ear. A bell-like interlude,
which occurs in the middle, suggests the pale
sound of distant bells floating across the valley to
this secret garden cloister.
To anyone who wants the difference in har-
monic method between the older and the newer
schools explained to him in a few words, I would
recommend the study of the harmonic basis of
this piece ; although I think it would not do to
let the composer discover you at such cold-
blooded musical anatysis. Like Debussy, he
would protest against the dissection of his music,
as if it were a piece of curious clockwork mechan-
ism. In the Revue Blanche in 1891 the French
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 79
master wrote, " As children we were taught to
regard the dismemberment of our play-things
and toys as a crime of high treason, but these
older children still persist in poking their noses
where they are not wanted, endeavouring to ex-
plain and dissect everything in a cold-blooded
way, thus putting an end to all mystery."
One of the most interesting of the piano
pieces from the harmonic point of view is the
third number of this set, entitled Bells. It is pre-
ceded by a quotation from Cyril Scott's Book
of Mournful Melodies. The piece adopts the
note "A" as the tonal centre and a certain minor
colouring is sustained throughout. An inces-
sant bell-figure in sixths, with a curious perverse
sort of false relation between the F sharp and the
F natural, chimes incessantly. Under this, rich
and trombonelike chords are sustained, and the
melody sings in the horn register of the piano.
The piece reaches a climax of brilliant scintilla-
tion in the E major episode, after which it dies
Sounds of colourless dreams, of strange visionary vague-
Immaculate music, heralding the life of sighs,
Bells across the lone lassitude, rising, rolling, endlessly
Over the wasteland solitude lost in the clear chaotic
80 CYRIL SCOTT
Edgar Allan Poe in twentieth-century dress,
you say! Yes perhaps.
6 I love Scott's music," said someone to me
one day, " but I am absolutely stumped by the
glissandos, especially those up and down the
black keys in Lotus Land and in the Twilight
of the Year. Can he do them himself?"
"Oh, yes; I have heard him race up and down
the piano thus, chuckling with delight ; I have
also heard York-Bo wen doing glissandi in double
octaves up and down the piano, but I believe that
both of them receive slight finger contusions at
times. I cannot do them myself, so I am unable
to give my readers the knack which I am told is all
that is required, given an amenable touch on the
piano. In Twilight of the Year (No. 4 of the
Poems) we have the delicate antiqueness of Bull
and Byrde served up in modern dress, and I am
sure the glissando \vould be easier on one of the
old virginals. In this piece, to use the com-
poser's own words, 4 the heart returns to stanzas
steeped in woe.' '
Now, deeply throbbing sighs escape the muted viol,
When across the meadows wander tired herds :
We sink, entwined no longer can we read the sunless
And e'en the wasted willows whisper weary words.
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 81
Nothing more intimate has ever been written
in music. Nevertheless, I can imagine that the
vividness of the Paradise-Birds will appeal to
more players. Their fragrant notes are indeed
garnished with beauteous colours in the marvel-
lous little arabesques. The mystic trees and sa-
cred bowers do indeed 4 6 resplendent shine with
the eternal sunset's light" in the resounding
chords and rolling arpeggios, symbolic of the
mingling of all faded human joys in one ; but the
piece ends with a " strong aspiring, freed from
the sense of separateness and a gladness born of
lost delights returning." In this set of Poems, in
Egypt and in the Jungle Book we have a contri-
bution fit to rank with the rhapsodies of Liszt,
the dances of Chopin, the sonatas of Brahms and
aubades of Scriabin.
One of the most attractive of the short pieces
is the Sphinx. It opens with several short
phrases, every bar a harmonic question ; the mood
alternating between this and a lyric passage.
A meditative alto melody supplies contrast. It
has a strange feeling of Eastern incantation
about it; something like a triumphant solu-
tion seems to occur at the climax, but the mys-
terious incantation and all the old questions
return afresh. The piece ends with a satisfying
82 CYRIL SCOTT
major chord. There is a suggestion of a plain-
tive bassoon hidden among swaying rushes,
piping a melancholy under-melody in a strange
admixture of major and minor key, an admixture
which produces far more plaintiveness than if the
phrase were in the minor throughout.
Curiously enough that most diatonic of com-
posers, George Frederick Handel, has exer-
cised a certain influence at times on this
modern English composer, and it was a happy
thought of Percy Grainger to urge Cyril Scott
to curtail his original piano Sonata No. 1 a work
which he had discarded as immature and permit
it to come forth under Grainger 's editorship as
the Handelian Rhapsody, Op. 17. One won-
ders what Handel himself would have said to
such rhapsodization. Still Handel was much
wider in his ideas than many even of his greatest
The Prelude Solennelle is one of the finest of
the piano pieces. Its free rhythm, far from
detracting from its dignity, deepens the vein
of serious feeling which pervades the piece.
Written mainly in robust chords, there are many
moving passages of awe, wonderment, and re-
ligious calm, but the joyful mood predominates
and the piece ends after a glittering cadenza of
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 83
the utmost scintillation. Wagner's influence
comes to the surface in parts, but the piece is aji
admirable example of the way Scott can take a
short theme and entirely evolve a whole piece
from it, unfailing in variety and gripping in
If asked to mention a piece which gives that
soft freshness of early morning when nature
seems to take on a new and virginal beauty a
favourite mood of the composer I should quote
the Cavatina written in 1915. In this lovely
Andante we get the quintessence of pianoforte
The constantly changing bar-times fail to dis-
turb its calm because there is above them a wider
sense of rhythm, an undisturbed flow of melody :
logical sequence lies subtly concealed under these
graceful curves ; harmonic subtlety abounds.
Take for instance the last chord of the bridge
leading to the return
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 85
or the following delicate dallying over the en-
The bell-like chords at the Piu mosso are very
arresting, and the manner of returning to the
first theme is exceedingly poetical.
The Diatonic Study, a favourite with organ-
ists, has a diatonic melody, delicate in curve,
86 CYRIL SCOTT
rippling away happily over a gently rocking bass,
like little wavelets over a shii:gly shore. Tran-
quillity and strength of melodious curve are the
prevailing features. Only once is there a per-
ceptible break, just before the reprise. If the
tune be diatonic, there is a plenitude of harmon-
ic interest. Indeed some people regard the novel
harmonies (or is it the scales?) as unpleasantly
creaking, a distasteful vagary of this wayward
composer. The waywardness is to my ear very
charming. Concerning matters of taste, non
disputandum est. Be that as it may, I feel sure
that the ending sets even the most stubborn of
these dissenters chuckling with delight.
For sinuous curves of melody and romantic
Western colour, the second of the two pieces,
Over the Prairie, stands very high amongst musi-
cal miniatures. The inner melody of the left
hand can bring out a positively uncanny eeriness.
The organ-like richness of harmony in the ma-
jestic chords of the Ode Hero'ique is difficult to
excel. A bell-like episode turns to a mood of
gentle lyricism ; but some sterner chords bring
in an array of richly connected harmonies lead-
ing to a majestic restatement of the opening
theme. There is something of the grandeur of
the sea here, and, in this regard, there is a curious
SMALLER PIANOFORTE WORKS 87
connection between the penultimate bar of this
piece and the opening chords of Schubert's
famous song, Das Meer.
THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS
THE LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS
THE Pianoforte Sonata, written in the sum-
mer of 1908, affords an altogether new piano
technique. The difficulties are so enormous
that only artists of the first rank would care
to tackle it. This Sonata has no tonality.
It opens in a restless, vigorous mood, but the
second subject gives tranquility, not altogether
devoid of a certain wistful, yearning feeling.
The passages of sixths over shifting tonalities are
very striking. This second theme gradually un-
folds and expands until it reaches climaxes of
prodigious power and of the utmost brilliancy.
Then we have some modifications of the first
subject after which comes a development section
where the themes are treated with masterly
skill. In the recapitulation, the first theme pro-
ceeds straight into the second without preamble.
92 CYRIL SCOTT
A decided pause is reached but it merely forms
a hovering point which has no real cadential
effect ; and we pass into the slow movement
without break. This lovely section opens with
eighteen bars of sustained melody, grand and
dignified in mood, richly clothed in striking har-
monies. An episode follows leading into the
second theme which vies with the first for the
palm of beauty. Melodiously tranquil and soul-
fully happy, it develops in canonic fashion.
After this the opening grandeur of the first sub-
ject on its return is rendered even more striking.
Most composers would have broken the music
there after so lovely a song, but this is not Scott's
method. As the slow movement gradually sub-
sides, little suggestions of the coming Scherzo
insinuate themselves in a species of short Fan-
tasia which finally emerges into the Scherzo
To my mind, this is the most original and
characteristic of all Cyril Scott's moods, and the
only composer who approaches anywhere near
him in this vein is Alexander Scriabin. It seems
to me that there is here achieved in music an
adumbration of that phenomenon which Car-
penter calls Cosmic Consciousness. It may be
traced psychologically I think from the ex-
LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 93
hilarating effect which Beethoven and Mahler
occasionally secured in their codas. But Scott
carries it to a higher power. This Scherzo is a
wild, mad happy dance, but it is a terpsichorean
expression on some higher plane than the physi-
cal. It has the same molecular atmospheric fes-
tive feeling which we feel in Debussy's Fetes.
Waywardness and exuberance there are also in
the opening subject, the second theme giving a
plaintive contrast to the previous exuberance of
spirit. We then return to the original mood,
and the music dances happily along until we reach
the recapitulation of a very majestic phrase from
the first movement. Again there is a free fan-
tasia portion which embraces almost all the pre-
ceding themes in a tranquilized form, the whole
gently subsiding, previous to the introduction of
the Fugue, a veritable tour de force which car-
ries the music along to the greatest climax of
the whole Sonata. This is probably the first
fugue ever written in the absence of regular
rhythm, and is based on two subjects
94 CYRIL SCOTT
the second being derived from the second theme
of the first movement ;
LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 95
We have in this Sonata one of the finest piano
works on the large scale, representing a com-
pletely logical cycle of moods, and replete with
96 CYRIL SCOTT
beauty and with ornamental device of every kind.
Sooner or later so superb a work must become
a regular item in the repertoire of all pianists of
the first rank.
One of the chief characteristics of the Sonata
is its complete freedom of rhythm. The chang-
ing bar-times, however, produce no feeling of
restlessness in the music, but only invest it with
the eloquence of a fine discourse ; and it may be
added that on its first performance not one critic
was sensible of its rhythmic irregularities.
Amongst the longer cyclic works, the Second
Suite Opus 75 deservedly takes a high place. It
is in five movements, the last being a well-devel-
oped fugue. The work is dedicated to Claude
Debussy, who was much impressed with it. He
writes, " Cyril Scott is one of the rarest artists
of the present generation," a striking testi-
mony from one of the greatest musical epicures.
But Debussy is not the only great contemporary
who admires him, for Percy Grainger has a
whole-hearted admiration for Scott's music,
which he has carried even to the extent of a re-
vision of some of the earlier works, which would
not have been published otherwise.
To return. This suite is an eminently successful
example of the way in which Scott can infuse new
colour and fresh emotion into the old moulds.
LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 97
The Prelude, the Air Varied, the Solemn Dance,
the Caprice, the Introduction and Fugue, are all
forms bearing the halo of antiquity. Yet the
guises here are new enough in all truth. The
Prelude is a gently swaying lyric whose impres-
sion of freedom is secured by alternating time-
signatures. Exquisitely poetic passages present
a picture of most idyllic emotion.
The unusual nature of the theme for the varia-
tions strikes one as remarkable. It opens thus :
98 CYRIL SCOTT
For the first variation, the theme is taken into
an inner part, but the word "variation" must
not be taken too literally. We see here in these
variations successive transformations, distillations
of the emotional germ, rather than the actual
outline of the theme, which nevertheless is always
present in an increasingly subtle form. After
varied presentments Piu mosso, Allegro, An-
dante, Molto scherzando the piece ends with a
soft repetition of the theme in its original form.
It is thus that I like all sets of variations to end.
These variations are more in the manner of,
though entirely different in matter from those
of Brahms, Reger and Elgar ; things of the spirit
rather than of the letter ; or as the composer
himself might put it, the same soul in suc-
cessive bodies. Those who expect something
of the style of Maurice Ravel's stately Pavane in
the Solemn Dance of this Suite will be disap-
pointed. The atmosphere is that of the old-
fashioned Minuet, but with a difference. There
is all the old world grace without any of the stiff-
ness of the 17th century. A Watteau-like pic-
ture in music on freer lines (in 7-8 time, 5-8 and
10-8 and what not), everything is richly filled
in ; there are no thin places. The caprice, also in
free time, is in reality a Scherzando ; there are
passages of remarkable brilliancy and of rich
LARGER PIANOFORTE WORKS 99
harmonic colouring. Whilst for the second two
movements the composer adopts a fixed key-note
(E) and for the Solemn Dance (C or G), for the
Caprice he abandons any tonal centre whatsoever
and ends with an E flat chord. The Introduction
and Fugue is in a style fit to raise the hair of the
musical pundits. What think you of the follow-
subject for a Fugue ?
It certainly does not look promising from the
point of view to which many of us are accustomed.
It has, by the way, a curious relationship with the
theme for variations already mentioned. Never-
theless Cyril Scott has developed one of his finest
compositions (of about 200 bars in length) filled
with all kinds of beauty, harmonic and contrapun-
tal. The first movement began with C as a
centre. The impressive coda to the Fugue ends
with a B flat chord, while the Introduction
100 CYRIL SCOTT
begins in B. I am inclined to think the key of the
Fugue subject is really E flat, the answer enter-
ing on B flat. With Scott's music the ear is the
only arbiter, the notation being often merely acci-
This Suite was remarkably well received in
Paris on its first performance, the composer him-
self being at the key-board.
IT is a custom of the day to write songs as a
species of recitative (witness Debussy, Ravel
and others). Scott's teacher, Ivan Knorr,
used to say that such were not specially
songs at all in the most accurate sense of the
word. Brahms and Schumann wrote real
songs that is, melody in the voice, and
so does Scott. In French, a synonym for
song is melodic, and to write such real melo-
dies is, I think, far more difficult than to produce
the recitative class of song, because the melody
has either to be more or less original, or through
new harmony, to produce an original effect.
Undoubtedly Cyril Scott's effects are produced
through the harmonies a little part-writing in
addition. From the large number of his
songs I select the following for brief men-
tion : Ma Mie (A last word) is one of the best
104 CYRIL SCOTT
of the early period, whilst My Captain and
the Blackbird's Song are apparently the most
popular. For the songs of the second period I
would specially mention Mirage with its sooth-
ing, magnetic beauty, the restful, lovely My
Lady sleeps, the virile A Song of Wine, and
the entrancing White Knight (with its pictorial
suggestion of the galloping of horses), not to
omit one of the best of all his inspirations in lyric-
al form, the unspeakably touching An Old Song
Ended. Deeply sincere and impressive are A
Gift of Silence, Love's Aftermath, and the elo-
quent setting of Christina Rossetti's For a
Dream's Sake. Daffodils is captivating in its
spontaneous melody and exquisite piano part.
In a more advanced style the Autumn Song, the
Villanelle of The Poet's Road with its original
harmonies, and the Moon Maiden with its ban-
tering queries and answers. Amongst the
very best of his songs are the early Two Poems:
Voices of Vision and Willows, written in 1903,
wonderfully daring in richness of texture and
originality of setting. New modes of expression
have been opened up in the Two Chinese Songs,
Waiting and A Picnic, to H. A. Giles' transla-
tion from the Chinese. The oriental feeling in
these two wonderful songlets is delightfully
reproduced. Whilst the first reaches the en-
THE SONGS .7 105
harmonic system as nearly as possible with a
twelve-note scale, the second wins my pre-
ference, being filled with a delightful rattle of
musical " chopsticks.'*
There is, however, another type of song
to which Cyril Scott occasionally turns as
indeed did also Brahms and other composers ol
equal repute and this is the folk-song; for to
omit any mention of Scott's activity in this di-
rection would be to ignore some of his happiest
inspirations. Indeed, one or two of his truest
interpretations have been inspired by this folk-
song element, notably An Old Song Ended, al-
ready referred to, and also a setting of that ex-
quisitely tender lyric, The Sands of Dee. No-
thing could be more truly pathetic than the
musical atmosphere of this setting, so entirely
unlike the way in which it has been set before,
that is to say, imitatively. Solely through the
means of a folk-song-like melody and varying
harmony, Scott has brought forth the unspeak-
ably simple pathos of Kingsley's Poem. Nor has
the simplicity suffered by a judicious use of mod-
ern harmonic device, and the final cadence is new
and yet retentive of an older world simplicity.
There are other songs containing this folk-
vein to a greater or lesser degree The White
Knight being one, but of a more or less naive and
gay quality, quite unlike The Sands of Dee.
Then again we have the two old English fyrics,
Lovely kind and kindly Loving and Why so wan
and pale, neither of which, however, comes up to
the quality of the later An Old Song Ended and
The Sands of Dee. Another example, but of a
different nature, may be mentioned the Tyro-
lese Evensong. Here Scott has wandered into
the folk element of another country and pre-
sented us with an undeniable Tyrolese Mazurka
for the piano with a sad, sustained song-melody
woven into the texture of its prevalent gaiety.
To leave the folk-type of song, in Lilac Time
(written for Miss Maggie Teyte) to some excep-
tionally happy words by Walt Whitman, the
ecstatic mood of the poet is reproduced and am-
plified by a beautifully-coloured sound-web,
punctuated here and there by a little recurrent
vocal arabesque, which exactly reproduces the
happy exclamation anticipatory of pleasure and
filled with quick breathing.
THE SONGS 107
...:/. - ;. .'-.':.:::>;,;.:- : ' :-*"J&S&&f-*
It is not easy to vocalize, as the reader will dis-
cover if he try. Later on, the poet's happy
simile of the soul's journey, "like a magnificent
ship gaily breasting the waters," and again, the
references to the lilac-scent, the green grass, and
the morning drops of dew, receive as it were their
very essence in this ingenious musical counter-
part. The striking triumph of the final appog-
giatated chords recalls the consummation of the
Ode Heroique. This is one of his very finest
Both words and music of Spring Song have
been written by Scott. The cuckoo-calls, sug-
gested and developed rather than exactly re-
produced, which constitute the short prelude,
form, as it were, a background for the
whole. The simple little arabesque forms a
highly effective ritornel wondrously shaded by
variously emotional inflections to the psalmodic
melody, which is spun out over sustained chords
of original harmonic colour.
In the joyous Spring-day, the soul of the
^poet-musician carols forth, awakening far dreams
anew, as springtime streams "from skies , of
endless blue." At the words "love-knit har-
mony" a rich webbing of long-strung arpeggios
is commenced and continues to the end, with
just a slight poising here and there on some rich
10S '.:V: CYRIL SCOTT
new harmony whilst the voice melodizes in psalnv^
like declaration. The composer's fondness for J
ritornels will be noticed here as a beautiful form- J
device, which he uses equally effectively also in ;
It was to Melchior Lechter, the famous Ger-j
man artist and designer already referred to, that |
in memory of a close friendship Cyril Scott dedi- "
cated one of his most touching songs of parting,
entitled Sorrow. It contains three short sobbing
stanzas by Ernest Dowson, in which the poet's
breath seems almost smothered by his sobs.
-'-'.-.''-.'."'"-". !"'.':' '-' : v ' ''"* ''' """." -T" '. ../-.-.- '. '-*.'_:" -: -..f.. 4v-V-*^&r
5 , Exceeding sorrow
Consumeth my sad heart,
"We must depart;
Now in exceeding sorrow all my part.
For simple pathos the diatonic music would be
difficult to surpass ; its very simplicity being the
rare accident of perfect beauty here. From its
grief-laden opening to its close the very quin-
tessence of silent sorrow is caught, Ernest Dow-
son has supplied Cyril Scott with a large number
of sympathetic poems which seem to coincide
with the soul-states of the composer.
Amongst the many facets of Cyril Scott's
versatile genius, one perhaps marvels most at
' ? *<
THE SONGS 109
the wonderfully accurate reproduction of nature
and its corresponding symbolism of human moods
at the same time. He has the rare gift of appre-
hending these moods in the three planes, visual,
aesthetic and emotional all at once. We were
once discussing colour and movement and in the
course of argument Cyril Scott went to the piano
and played a remarkable rendering of the play of
Rainbow Trout 1 in clear water. Long, un-
usual, chromatically-coloured arpeggios swept
over a range of four octaves in the upper region
of the keyboard, whilst slow, scarcely-moving
harmonies in the bass suggested quiet pools of
clear water. " Rather too loud for minnows "
was the composer's remark.
Another example of his great power of repro-
ducing moods, is the musical setting of Margaret
Maitland Radford's stanzas entitled "Rain.' 5
The regular patter of the seconds maintains a mo-
notonous sodden atmosphere more accurately
seized than even by Debussy in his Jardins sous
la pluie. This creates a monotonous drab
throughout, pleasing by its verisimilitude save
where likens the sweeping rain-drifts to a
weird procession of "giant ghosts with hollow
ancient eyes." The high key setting is the
I Now published (Schott & Co.)
110 ; CYRIL SCOTT
original form. It would be a good thing if pub-
lishers would always state the original key of-a'
song. In this instance the accompaniment is
a little gruff in the lower key.
An unerring taste in poetry is the necessary
concomitant of the song-composer. One c
not set an auctioneer's catalogue to music as't*
Strauss seems to think, and the perfect lyricist is$||
prevented by a sense of fitness, if not by intu-||l
ition, from choosing unsuitable material. And |
so it comes about that in a composer's choice of
lyrics, as in his leanings towards various poets, ;.
one gets a valuable index to his music, valuable ;
not only to the critic and to the appreciator, but : ".j
also to the interpreter of the songs and the ac-
Cyril Scott's choice wanders over an
immense field from the Scotch Lullaby of
Walter Scott to the lays of W. R. Patten trans-
lated from the Greek. The two poets who have
the most impelled Cyril Scott's responsive muse
to utterance are Ernest Dowson and Rosamund
Marriott Watson. In Dpwson's Villanelle of
the Poet's Road, Love's Aftennath, A Song of
Arcady, Pierrot and Moonmaiden, and many
others of his lays, Scott has indeed found him-
self moved to some of his finest expressions.
Mrs. Watson makes a no less powerful appeal to
THE SONGS 111
him. The Unforeseen, Autumn's Lute, Invo-
cation, Prelude and Nocturne too musical in
themselves for many composers to attempt the
task successfully have found in Cyril Scott an
interpreter of rare delight. Herbert A. Giles'
translations from the Chinese have also caught
the composer's mood, and in the Two Chinese
Songs, Waiting and A Picnic, we find the actual
counterparts in lyrics of the moods of the Piano
Concerto, the Poppies, &c.
In all these poets it is as if Cyril Scott found
his own soul-states faithfully mirrored. The deli-
cate, sad grace of Dowson, the strong, rugged,
emotion of Walt Whitman, the quaint sim-
plicity of older poets like George Darley, and
the delicate other-world romance of Dante
Gabriel Rossetti appeal almost equally to him.
In his wide eclectic choice of poems he reveals
an unerring instinct, and he does not make the
common mistake of thinking that every poem by
a favourite poet is equally good. But perhaps
the most interesting songs are those few in which
the composer sets to music his own words, such
as Two Poems, Voices of Vision, Willows, &c.
These thoughts raise the most significant ques- '
tions as to the coincidence of contemporary
moods in the various arts. Such an investiga-
tion would be no less fruitful than a philosophical
enquiry into the close analogy between the various
modern tendencies which arise at the same time
in different countries, varying only in national
colouring and idiom but coinciding in essence.
THE VIOLIN WORKS
UNQUESTIONABLY one of Cyril Scott's greatest
works is his Sonata for Violin and Piano, which
we have briefly dealt with in Chapter V. This
was written between the years 1908 and 1910.
It is in his most vigorous style, full of fine themes
marshalled with a wonderful power and arrayed
in gorgeous harmony. It is essentially a work
for artists of the first rank and is thoroughly mod-
ern from the first bar to the last.
Shortly afterwards, in 1911, came the Talla-
hassee Suite, dedicated to Zimbalist. Despite
the title, the only movement possessing the
" nigger feeling " to a marked extent is the last.
It is very diatonic and therefore very unlike
Scott ; the first theme must surely be a genuine
Southern States folk-tune, whilst the Allegro
con spirito is glorified "ragtime." In this re-;
spect, the piece justifies its title, and the Negro
Air and Danse make a splendid foil for the ex-
quisite musings of the first movement, Bygone^
Memories (a reverie for muted violin), and alsoi;
for the second, a dolce far niente Allegretto,^
composed, as it were, whilst lazily lying in the
prairie grass After Sundown. The technical re-
quirements of this Suite do not make very great
demands on either of the players, and it is in the 1
composer's best "non-tonal" style.
The three pieces of Opus 73 (dedicated to Paul
Stoeving) belong to the year 1910. The Elegie
is a fine melodic outpouring into a perfectly;
finished mould. Cast on simple ternary lines, the
violin has the chief melody at first ; when this is
taken over by the piano, the violin soars above
.with a new melody equally spontaneous and
tained. The middle portion rightly accords with -
the mood of the whole. It is rare to find Scott
taking up the Valse form, but he is entirely suc-
cessful in retaining his characteristic style in the
second number of this set, Valse triste. The
meaning of the curious reference to a well-known
theme with an entirely diatonic treatment is not
The Romance is particularly charming with its
gently swaying harmonies, its picturesque epi-
THE VIOLIN WORKS 117
sode (a fine piece of artistry), and its beautifully
balanced phrasing. 1
The tiro pieces of 1911 reveal the folksong
influence to which we have already referred. The
delicacy of the Cherry Eipe setting, and the rich
harmonic dress given to the Gent le Maiden
(an old Irish Air), are unique in violin literature. .
These two pieces are great favourites with John
Dunn, the English violinist.
Of the Deux Preludes I. prefer the Danse
(dedicated to Miss Daisy Kennedy). It is very
difficult, and owes its origin to that characteristic
of Scott in this impish gambolling mood the
repetition of an arabesque in contrary motion
standing it on its legs and on its head alternately,
as it were. The Poem which is freely modu-
latory, rather than "non-tonal," appears to
commence in E flat and to end in A flat.
This brings us to two of the loveliest of Scott's
works the Sonnets, published in 1914. In the
first one in C, over a characteristic accompani-
ment of distant bell-like tones in sixths wander-
ing about mostly in steps of a fourth, the violin
sings contentedly, the mute throwing a roman-
tic twilight feeling over the whole. The second
melody is of equal beauty and the swaying tonali-
1 The " sharp " to the " A " in the final bars is intended for the " F."
Jltfefrafb. motto modenxto.
t ftotln consenting. -
ties at the close are of exquisite sweetness.
Played with the requisite delicacy of intimate
feeling, it invariably arouses a keen desire for its
Sonnet No. II in E major has the same note
of charming intimacy, and has in addition, an
episode of indescribable weirdness it must be
heard for it refuses to be put into words ; but if
it is true that in lyric verse the Sonnet is the
THE VIOLIN WORKS 119
purest, the most difficult and the most restrained
form of poetry, then these two pieces of Scott
justly deserve this exacting title.
Cyril Scott is universally known in the world
of song and piano music, and a wide and speedy
recognition of his violin and orchestral composi-
tions is much to be desired. And this for many
reasons. Here in England and in America, our
appreciation of him has too long been confined
to particular cliques, whereas his works cover the
whole range of musical instruments, and fine as
his smaller pieces are, a composer should surely
be judged by his greater works, or at any rate
by a broad assessment of his complete output
and not by a mere part of it.
The Violin works in particular well deserve
the wide recognition which must come to them
in time ; for Scott is peculiarly intimate with the
Violin tone ; not only does he handle all the
older violin technique freely and nimbly but he
has brought many new devices and effects into
the combination. His pieces will not commend
themselves to the old-fashioned violinist who
expects the pianist to play the Cinderella to him,
to keep his few simple chords well in the back-
ground, to pause servilely whilst he gambles
through a long and meaningless cadenza and to
gallop madly home with the postludial chords.
120 - , v *|: CYRIL SCOTT ^
There are no " fireworks " with Scott ; but there
is plenty of technique required. Far from being;
a humble servitor, the pianist has equal rights
with the violinist ; the two interests are perfectly^
combined and unified. The construction
each of these pieces is wonderfully welded into : |
one whole. In other words they are duets, andl
not solos with accompaniment. What a relief it-
is to the artistically-minded to hear -violin musical
of this order! Why should not violin music be
just as artistic as that for the orchestra, the pianos
or any other instrument?
The violinist who is making the first acquaint-;
ance with Cyril Scott's string music should first
take up the two melodies, Cherry Ripe and The
Gentle Maiden (the violin part is quite diatonic),^
and then he may pass to the three pieces of Opus -
73, Elegy, Valse triste and Romance (they are;
fairly diatonic). The Tallahassee Suite will be
the next step, as although fairly profuse in chro-^
matics it is still "tonal." We pass into the -
"non-tonal" style with the Two Sonnets and /
the Deux Preludes whilst the Sonata should ^
only be attempted by artists of the first rank.-;g|
A solitary contribution for Flute and Piano, ^
Scotch Pastoral, may be mentioned here. It .,
was published by Hansen of Christiania in^
1914 and belongs to the order of the Violin^
THE VIOLIN WORKS 121
works, the Gentle Maiden, the Elegy, the .Ro-
mance, and the Two Sonnets. There is little
that is Scotch, though much that is Scottian, in
the treatment of the two themes Ye bonnie
braes and the Strathspey. As for the flute part,
it suffices to say that the instrument is a great
favourite with Cyril Scott, and that this piece
always does " come off" in a remarkable way.
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY
As the heading implies, this Chapter will be
somewhat technical, and the reader is fore-
warned that a certain amount of technical terms
cannot be avoided. If the reader is little con-
cerned with this side of music he will probably
elect to skip over this Chapter, and he will cer-
tainly have the author's hearty concurrence in
such a course.
At the same time, the book would not be com-
plete if some consideration of this side of
Cyril Scott's art were not included.
The composer is so thorough going in his pur-
suit of newness and his careful avoidance of all
that is obvious and banal, that his originality ex-
tends to matter as well as to manner, to form
(thpugh here not so completely) as well as
to texture. But nowhere is his inventiveness
more striking perhaps than in his use of harmony,
for Cyril Scott is undoubtedly the richest har-
monist we possess.
The merely casual observer too readily couples
up Scott's harmonic st) T le with that of the brilli-
ant French Impressionist, Claude Debussy, But
the first examination of Scott's work shows that
his treatment is quite different, and thoroughly
characteristic only of himself. Whereas the
French master follows too closely along the scien-
tific lines of overtones often to the extent of
mere mannerism Scott derives his harmony
through altogether different channels. It would
be difficult to find such a rich and lusty passage
in the French composer's works as the following
(from the Jungle Book) and such are very com-
mon with Scott :
Nor could many of the musical passages which
we have already quoted, if any, be mistaken for
Scott carries his harmony further into new
fields, for the simple reason that he is not tied
down to the scientific laws of acoustics as is the
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 127
French master, and he secures in consequence
an endless variety ; whereas Debussy frequently
seems as though he cannot get away from a few
favourite arrangements of "dominant ninths"
and certain "whole tone scale" effects.
Scott's harmony is never cloying but always
vital, opalescent and varied in hue, and his many
effects of chord colour are due entirely to the deli-
cate accuracy of his hearing. Not only are his
chords delicious in their sequential connection,
but almost each one is a gem of euphony in itself.
In no particular does the genius of Cyril Scott
seem to be more evident than in this matter of
Harmony is of prime importance with Scott's
music and the quotation of a melodic fragment
without the full harmony would be almost a wil-
ful representation of him. Although he has
gone through a succession of harmonic styles, his
harmonic technique did not unfold in a consecu-
His work cannot be divided into periods, but
distinct stages w r ill be noticed. From the some-
what ordinary productions of his primary stage,
he seems to have stepped almost immediately, at
least so far as his published works go, to the com-
plex style of such pieces as Dagobah and the
Chinese Songs. Then came his non-tonal
period the musical language of the Concerto,
the Scherzo and the Quintet. Later the influ-
ence of folk-tunes made itself felt in his modern
settings for diatonic melodies.
He himself explains his non-tonal style, as be-
ing derived from regarding each chord as though
it were in a separate key, and certainly this view
helps one materially in quickly grasping such
pieces as the Scherzo and the song Voices of
Vision. For his harmony is chordal rather than
contrapuntal, to be regarded vertically rather
than horizontally. We find very few passages
like the following from his Concerto :
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 129
where the harmony rims on a horizontal
plane. His chords are beautifully tinted with
added notes and by unusual arrangements. Nor
is it only beauty that he seeks in his chord, but
pungency, even acidity, and real emotional
power. Take the following phrase from Over
the Prairie, and note the curious effect of the se-
quence of chords :
From the purely technical point of view, this
delicate shading of his harmony is his most salient
Then again, the scale which he most favours
is one very much like the chromatic scale with
every note equally free. His harmonic system
agrees with his scale, and he does not mind very
much how he spells his chords ; for he does
not point, like Scriabin and Busoni, towards a
system of third and quarter tones. His harmony
owes much to the use of other scales too, exotic
ones, modal, mediaeval, and Eastern ; and he
inclines very little to thte whole-tone scale,
which, by the way, came from the East (the
Siamese) through the Russians (chiefly Dargo-
misky and Musorgsky).
The love of bell-tones is no new thing, but few
composers, if any, have produced such entranc-
ing effects as those curious combinations con-
sisting chiefly of fourths which we find in the
Piano Concerto, at the end of the Diatonic
Study, and elsewhere, especially in Bells
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 131
Sometimes these bell effects cause a strange
creaking of enharmonics, as in the Cavatina.
The pedal-figure is turned to fine use in the
Irish Reel, Pierrette, &c.
& H j
What harmonic metamorphoses may happen to
a simple diatonic theme of Scott is well shown
by one of the chief themes in the Concerto :
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 133
The same theme also furnishes us with a fine use
of chords in which the fourths predominate.
Occasionally his melodic outline bears a strong
resemblance to that of the Russian Scriabin :
c " J J
but Scott's treatment of the theme is altogether
different. Here is one of his harmonizations :
f /Hb j -
tf B .f-
\t/ .Jr ^
k^ . *
espress. + '+-:
^ ] JT^ ^ I
JC Z2 2 *
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 135
Such passages as the following, in which the
broken fourths play a prominent part, are pecu-
liarly characteristic of Scott :
Then again, he has the capacity for writing
melodies of a wonderfully sustained length as al-
ready said. Take for example the opening sub-
ject of the Quintet (forty-one bars long) or the
second (cantilena theme) in the last movement in
the Violin Sonata. One annotator has observed
186 CYRIL SCOTT
that the melody seems to emerge from his music
as its flower and ecstasy, rather than as the source
of it; and that when it comes, it has "a syllabic
intensity which differs from the moulded
phrase." But this impression only comes about
because with Scott ^ melody and harmony are
conceived as one whole and inseparable thing a
fact much less frequently the case with many
composers, than is generally supposed. And the
intensity is only "syllabic" to those unaccus-
tomed to such a free and independent treatment
of the so-called chromatic notes ; for Scott is cer-
tainly as great as a melodist as he is original as a
His use with the arabesque again is highly
characteristic. The charm of this weaving of
patterns in music extends right back to the medi-
eval musicians with their intense liking for end-
less twisting convolutions in the plainsong. An
arabesque in music is a fanciful patterning of
notes which aims at pleasing the hearer on its
own account, just as the flamboyant tracery of
Gothic architecture pleases and interests the
eye. It must be something more than a mere
arpeggio and in its full glory should have one or
more convolutions like the twinings of a convol-
vulus. It plays a very great part in Scott's
music, turning up first in the form of the little
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 137
trill in the Blackbird 9 s Song, then in the tintin-
abulations of the bell-figures in No. 3 of the
Poems, assuming great dimensions in the Rain-
bow Trout, and it is even responsible for the long
sinuous trailing of the melody in the Diatonic
Study. The rich foliation in the Second Piano
Suite owes just as much to this device as does the
realistic curvetting of the little wavelets and the
swish of the water in Sea Marge; whereas the
scintillating cadenza of the Prelude Solenelle
owes its origin to it just as much as does the
gentle curving of the Danse Languor 'euse,
His love of arabesquing in music is also re-
sponsible for one of his most bewildering effects
his use of shifting tonalities in the bass under
a treble pattern technically called a "pedal fig-
ure.' ' We see this in Bells (No. 3 of the Poems) ;
but perhaps the most remarkable example of it is
where it is used in conjunction with the unso-
phisticated Irish Reel, from which \ve have al-
ready quoted. In his treatment of the piano-
forte too we find him equally original. One of
his greatest effects is secured by treating the
piano as a large dulcimer ; the notes then have a
star-like independence and luminosity which al-
lows but little apparent melodic connection.
I believe he is getting already a little dissoci-
138 CYRIL SCOTT
ated from the piano keyboard as a channel of ex-
pression. The orchestra has his love, and he is
turning his eyes towards fresh fields to conquer.
We have more than once talked on the won-
derful possibilities of the modern organ with
its tonal wealth and new expressive powers, and
probably it will claim some of his attention in
the near future.
With the orchestra again, he is careful to avoid
the obvious. Where a conventional composer
would use three horns he employs say, two low
flutes and a solo viola (muted) ; and thus he ob-
tains the exact tint for the archaic feeling of La
Belle Dame sans Merci. But he can touch also
the highest lights \vith the most exhilarating ef-
fects ; witness the clever assimilation of the or-
chestration to the timbre of the pianoforte in the
Concerto, \vhere harp, celesta, and companella ef-
fects are made so many auxiliaries to establish
intercourse on equal terms with the orchestra.
His fastidious taste in the choice of instruments
always keeps him far from the shoal on which so
many composers get stranded the love of mam-
moth orchestras with their appalling noise. For
the Concerto, for instance, a very moderate selec-
tion suffices : 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons,
1 oboe, timpani, harp, and the usual strings.
It is a matter of surprise to me to hear people
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 139
say occasionally that the music of Cyril Scott is
lacking in form and construction. To my mind
he is far too conservative with form, but this is
more particularly the case with his shorter pieces.
To my mind the simple ternary design a- b- a- is
far too naive ; a mere reference to the first sub-
ject rather than a full repetition, satisfies my
sense of symmetry and balance.
"Cyril Scott," writes Perc}^ Grainger, " com-
poses rather like a bird sings, with a full positive
soul behind him, drawing greater inspiration
from the mere physical charm of actual sound
than from any impetus from philosophical pre-
occupations or the dramatic emotions of objective
life. Thus while Strauss is largely concerned with
philosophical themes and Debussy apparently
often full of pictorial suggestions and influences,
it is mainly sounds (how they sound rather than
what they express) that coax utterance from Cyril
Scott's touching and poetical emotional self.
This preponderance of the purely musical ele-
ments in his art strikes me as a result that might
almost be expected of the conditions of music in
England" Nevertheless, although this opini-
on of Grainger is true, it is only sometimes so,
for Scott has often produced his best work when
depicting pictorial or emotional ideas as in the
Poems for instance.
140 CYRIL SCOTT
We may fittingly finish this cursory survey
With Debussy *s estimate :
" Cyril Scott is one of the rarest artists of the
present generation. His rhythmical experiments,
his technique, even his style of writing, may at
first sight appear strange and disconcerting.
Inflexible severity, however, compels him to
carry out to the full his particular system of aes-
thetics, and his only. The music unfolds itself
somewhat after the manner of those Japanese
Rhapsodies which, instead of being confined
within traditional forms, are the outcome of im-
agination displaying itself in innumerable arab-
esques, and the incessantly changing aspects of
the inner melody are an intoxication for the ear
are, in fact, irresistible. All those qualities
are more than sufficient to justify confidence in
this musician so exceptionally equipped."
g ~ f
Example of Orchcstralk
HIS TECHNIQUE AND HARMONY 143
ivtth 31 4e-efrum3ttcft3
(/row the Pianoforte Concerto)
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER
As with Edgar Allan Poe, so with Cyril Scott,
44 poetry is a passion " as well as the sweetest of
all recreations. To leave music with its intri-
cacies and turn to verse is a rest and a delight
which he can find through no other medium.
Moreover it enables him to express ideas and
philosophies which the more abstract medium
of music can never do. And yet, curiously
enough, he feels that were he not a musician, he
could not be a poet, and were he not a poet he
would compose a very different sort of music.
The two are blended and inseparable. After all,
the first requisite of poetry is music, and a true
poem must first appeal to the ear, before the
reader will be lured on to search for its meaning.
But as the trouble with much music is its ob-
viousness, so is it with poetry its sound is too
obvious, its music insufficiently subtle, even when
148 CYRIL SCOTT
its meaning is of deep import. And so when
Scott first started writing verse he felt that a
new music in the line and stanza was the goal to
be striven for : and all the conventionalists who
tried to prove the error of his ways, could not
turn him from this method. Destiny put a
teacher in his way in the shape of a French
poet, Charles Bonnier, already mentioned in our
biographical chapter (friend of Mallarme), and
the most modern of the modern, whose prin-
ciple was contained in the precept always find
a new rhythm; let your ideas always come to
you in the shape of a new melody in words. And
this precept, Cyril Scott attempted to carry out,
because it seemed to him the only right one ; as
forcible in poetry as it is in music.
The first verses, written at the age of 21,
contained no philosophy of life : they were mere
fancies, mere pictures, mere songs, mere word-
music, but they went to the creating of a form
which proved useful later on for the expression
of ideas. Looking back at The Shadows of
Silence and the Songs of Yesterday (his first
little book of verse), he found most of the lyrics,
mere "songs without words," and only allowed
a few to be reprinted including the two follow-
ing, which he set to music :
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 149
These mournful trees caressed in the ancient poet's dreams,
That weep their green unending tears along the silent
Christened by the waste waters, sighing in the breeze,
Willows weeping, wailing, where the world lulls at ease,
Willows weeping, wailing; Nature's sorrow-stricken trees.
Maidens stray along the daisied banks and sigh and sing,
Plucking from the daisied grass the dainty buds of spring ;
Where the lovers clasp hands and wend their flow'ry way,
W T illows weeping, wailing at the words they say,
Willows weeping wantonly because the world is gay,
Are sad and grey.
Eve, warm and sad, as the last light shimmers,
And the pallid flowers sigh in the soft air;
Love, found at last, through her calm soul glimmers :
Perfumes wafting, breezes doling scents new and fair.
Ah, chaste as morn, there she walks on, smiling;
In the evening-hallowed grove, with a pale hand,
Plays on her lute, thus the dear time whiling,
Playing softly, virgin music; love's sweet command.
So as he comes, and her mild eyes darken,
And the tender shadows glide into veiled night;
All thrills for him, and his strained ears hearken ;
Music swaying, music dying, Love's end's delight.
The second volume, The Grave of Eros, and
the Book of Mournful Melodies, with Dreams
from the East, was much in the same vein,
the versification being more elaborate still,
as in :
150 CYRIL SCOTT
Overspread with a chaste aureal veiling of buttercups,
velvet and golden,
The early summer meades exhale an amber caress,
Presenting a cool capricious carpet, to which our listless
eyes are beholden,
And the sighs of olden
Ages full in languid loveliness.
The streamlet consoles kindly the willows, with waters
refreshing, that glisten
With smiles, and stroke their sombre stumps of plumage
Entoning a tuneful rhythm of rapture, that causes our
straining ears to listen,
And my tears to christen
Silently your head upon my breast.
What sand in the old hour-glass niters its wearisome
Again the distant chimes to sound their wonted regret;
From every terrestrial toil disburdened, we follow the
brooklet's beam-kissed winding,
And our dream-tryst finding,
Faint within a slumbrous oubliette.
That the critics should say he was unable to
scan, was hardly a matter for surprise, since his
scansion was purposely unconventional, but that
they should say he was influenced by Swinburne ;
seeing that he had hardly read a line of that poet,
and what he had read did not appeal to him,
was at least interesting if untrue. Strange to
say, the only poets that really appealed to him
at that time were Ernest Dowson and Stefan
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 151
George. Even Baudelaire whom he translated as
a tour de force (inspired to do so by the encour-
agement of Arthur Symons), only appealed to
him in a very limited degree ; for, though he went
through what is called the decadent phase, he
confessed he only did so half-heartedly and with
no conviction. Indeed, whatever little decad-
ence he admired was soon to be dispelled by an
entire change in his outlook the coming into
contact with Oriental philosophy and theosophy
at about the age of 26 ; an attitude which
tinctured all his creative activity especially his
verse. For he regards Yoga (as the Science is
called) as the most vital and most absorbing
thing in life ; embracing all its activities and
inspiring them with a meaning of unfathomable
profundity. Without such an outlook, at once
a science and a religion (or rather the rationale
of all religions) and a philosophy as well, life
seems to him devoid of meaning ; a mere drifting
along the pathway of time, one knows not
whither. Thus from the day of that change,
he used poetry no longer as a means solely to
fabricate music in words, but to express what he
considered the highest goal of life, and the third
book, The Voice of the Ancient, 1 contained his
attempts at this outpouring of the soul.
lj. M. Watkins, London.
152 CYRIL SCOTT
From the pessimism (prompted by the spirit
of agnosticism) contained in the first book of
verse, he now turned to an exactly antithetical
note, and wrote a poem on Vedanta, one of the
most ancient systems of Indian philosophy. Its
content is, that all consciousness is in reality
one, and that its diversity is only in name and
form and not in absolute truth. For all men
are potentially supermen, not in the material
sense of Nietzsche but in the spiritual sense ; and
the object of all philosophy, art, and religion is
to apprise humanity of this fact in order that
humanity may become perfect and undying.
Indeed, when mankind realises this, according to
Scott, it must perforce see the world, with all
its frets, as something entirely different ; for as
the poem referred to, says :
What are the world's foolish toys, and death's ephemeral
Seeming endless, yet by the Endless, fleeter than light-
Think that never yesterday was, that there are no to-
Then future fiends are void and past despairs are empty
In a word, "live in the Eternal," as the
Theosophist puts it ; for only 4 by so doing is
true happiness possible. This Vedanta poem
is followed by others called Dreams after
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 153
Death, giving a faint adumbration of what
awaits the soul when the prison of the body has
been cast away and man finds himself in
Devachan or the Mental Plane. For on this
plane, nearer to Unity of Consciousness, he
knows himself :
Not born to stranger's land no plane that asks a parting
From former earth-engendered loves;
Here every tone accords, the spirit knows no thwarting,
And love returns enriched to him who loves. 1
But this is not all, for it is a plane on which
the sublimest happenings of earth, those mo-
ments of deeply spiritual love-happiness are
not only lived over again, but enhanced to a
continuous glorification, as we get in another
All else is paled, we only live that moment,
Expanded now unto Eternity.
Upon the sacred mirror of the Spirit graven,
One moment's life is endless ecstasy. 2
Nevertheless although on such a plane of con-
sciousness " man perceives that ' life was never
Life,' ' yet it is not essential to leave the earth-
sphere in order to experience what Edward Car-
penter and others have called Cosmic Conscious-
ness, still less the super-earthly consciousness of
l The Awakening. Ibid.
154 CYRIL SCOTT
the mental plane. Let the mind but suppress
its grosser modifications, and the subtler hidden
side of Nature, the "speech of the silence"
makes itself perceptible. As another poem puts
And through the calm the Voice of Evening came,
It was not in the roses, perfumes, nor the balmy bank,
It rose not from the stream, nor had it shape or Sound
It rose from Nowhere and to Nowhere sank. 1
But to hear this subtler speech of Nature, we
must suppress all the more turbulent emotions ;
jealousy, anger, intolerance and the like must be
banished from the soul. And so in the same
book, we get a section headed Discourses
which shows what the attitude of a superman
would be towards those he loves : an attitude
utterly devoid of the sense of possession which
must be regarded as the root of most misery.
It was about his 31st year that Cyril Scott
finished another book, The Vales of Unity,* and
in this he ventured into longer poems, one being
in the form of a ballad, in which he attempted
to show how even a courtesan can be a most
saintly character. In fact, to disclose good and
1 Ibid. Hymns to Autumn and Evening.
2 David Nutt.
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 155
beauty in all things must, with Cyril Scott, be
the aim of the poet, and the awakening of more
tolerance and charity in others should ever be
one of his missions however unconsciously he
may perform it. The old catch-phrase, " I 9 art
pour /'art," has really little meaning ; for art has
a definite function, however much wiseacres may
try to deny the fact : it does undoubtedly dis-
close beauties in things which would otherwise
remain hidden ; and thus it elevates the mentali-
ties of mankind.
A Dead Poet, the poem that follows, shows
that tendency in men to enjoy the fruits of
the artist's creativeness and yet chide him for
the imperfection of his character. Instead of
weighing the good actions that the genuine artist
accomplishes against the weakness of his char-
acter, which often hurts nobody but himself,
people are often too prone to forget this, and
in return for all the beauty he gives them, for-
give him nothing. They fail to realise that con-
ventions can mean very little to the artist, be-
cause conventionality arises either from mental
laziness or fear of what others will say and think.
Moreover the true genius must ever have the
capacity to feel deeper love and emotions than
the man in the street, for it is the very expression
of these emotions which engenders poetry :
156 CYRIL SCOTT
He took the flowers of love to breathe their sweetness,
And shape the soulful songs of his endeavour;
His fervent heart forgetful of their fleetness,
They faded, that his songs might live for ever.
And ye ye bore not with him thankless, cruel,
Ye took the harvest that his life's toil rendered;
But would have robbed him of the vital fuel,
And quelled the furnace that his muse engendered.
The soul of the true artist must be gauged by
what he writes. As set forth in the latest
He is his songs and not his earth-seen life
Of love and living, peacefulness or passion's strife;
For what he lived was only flesh, but what he sang
His life the shadowy half, his songs the whole.
Not what this flesh enacts of foolsome deeds,
Nor how oft netherwards it falls, nor yet succeeds;
But how divinely high to soul-sublimity it yearns,
That is the truth-crowned symbol that discerns. 1
In other words, the capacity and love for high
ideals shows the nature of the soul ; the height,
so to say, of the thoughts manifesting the true
worth of the character.
The final poem in this section of the book is
again connected with the portrayal of a per-
sonality that mysterious being known as an
l The Celestial Aftermath. Prelude (Chatto & Windus).
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 157
Adept, Master or Mahatma (whatever name
occultism chooses to call him). The name taken
in this case is a Rosier ucian, an Initiate in a
secret society, 1 founded in the fourteenth cen-
tury. There are people who doubt that such
Adepts exist, with powers that to ordinary in-
telligence must seem miraculous. Yet the poet
urges this incredulity is hardly to be wondered
at ; for such men live either retired lives, or else
hide their spirituality from the eyes of the or-
dinary man, revealing it alone to their few dis-
ciples. These men, in fact, influence the world
from the higher planes, and work mostly on those
planes, asking nothing in return, having lost all
desire for money, fame or sexual love. Their
one love is the great orphan, Humanity, and
their one aim to help it along the path of spiritual
Perhaps the most significant lines in this poem
are those which exhibit the tendency of human
nature to try and convince knowledge by ignor-
There are those who would attempt with strained endea-
To sapiently deny him truths that 'neath his gaze, unfold :
As if indeed the nescience born of blindness ever
Could vanquish knowledge born of that which seeing
l Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. Robertas de Fluctibus. See
The Rosicrucians. H. C. Jennings (Rider).
158 CYRIL SCOTT
So that the poet exhorts humanity :
Let be at rest the oratory of your unseeing;
Wise is the man who knoweth his unknowing and is mute !
The second section of this book is called The
Garden of Soul-Sympathy, and is a collection
of shorter poems. The Envoi of this section was
used in the piano pieces entitled Poems (Schott).
As to the last section headed Confidences,
there is here set forth a eulogy of friendship in
a poem written in rather unusual versification.
Friendship in the poet's eyes is one of the sweet-
est and highest joys of human life.
Ah, many loves may glide
Across the surface of the soul '**-'
To part or to abide,
Yet always, and at the end,
Friend seeketh friend.
For the poem goes on to say that friendship
A god who doles alone
The mildly sweet, but ne'er the sore.
And solely for his own
Demandeth never those who dwell
Beneath his spell.
More fair than that we call,
In witless dearth of wisdom, love,
Which truly asketh all,
And somewhat gives, but would enchain
Its glowing swain.
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 159
For this bestows the best,
In that it loves and letteth love,
Not says with pride's behest
Love me alone, or else depart
From out my heart.
No poorer at its close
Than at its dawn, such hearts embrace;
A tranquil way it flows,
And should it wither, leaves no corse
Of charred remorse.
There are several more poems in this section,
but space does not permit of their being dealt
with. The mysticism contained in the final one
entitled Retrospect is however worthy of note,
since it does much to explain the title of the
whole book, viz., The Vales of Unity. Here the
poet in his meditations looks back on all the
fleeting beauties of the year, beginning with the
I wander back the journeyed way
Unto the earliest feathered mummer,
Who hails the entire song of summer
Within his musicful array.
Then he goes on to review all his joys and loves
and sorrows, but with the unmoved vision of
And dews of ancient weepings waft
Their bitterness-absterged sweetness,
And love descends in Heaven's completeness,
To take my heart in joyful haft.
160 CYRIL SCOTT
I'd seen the suns of glory set,
I'd seen both dawning and decaying;
And, what in Springtide wandered maying,
Sink into Autumn's oubliette.
Till finally he comes to that state where with
the soul's eternal vision " he sees beyond the
shadows of transition a substance that endures" ;
and not only that, but he senses the sublimely
mystical truth that each individual soul is a part,
and absolutely essential to the World-soul.
And never a Spring were without me,
And without me there were no Summer;
There is no goer and no comer,
For all is one vast Unity.
In other words, the soul is in reality perfect,
eternal and one with the All-soul.
We now pass on to the last published
book, The Celestial Aftermath, A Springtide of
the Heart and Far-away Songs. After the
Prelude, in which the poet sets forth the object
of poetry in the lines among others :
A poet gives that other's eyes may see:
What else were working worth than this sublimity ?
A long poem follows, entitled The Celestial
Aftermath, being a eulogy on a few soul-inspir-
ing days spent at the end of summer in har-
1 Chatto & Windus, London, 1915.
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 161
monious accord with friends, in the English
Lake country. Thus it begins :
What earth-foretasted shimmer of Heaven's oneness
For us within its ambient arms the Summer's faltering
And from its farewell sighs a soul entwining sweetness
Giving to each a joy to be his aidful part
Across the bleak, brown hills of Autumn's ending
And the Winter's shrewd and passionate smart ?
It was this poem which called forth a long
article by Ernest Newman, contending that
Cyril Scott wrote poetry which made no sense,
because the things he expressed therein were
" inexperienceable." Such an outlook would
negate a large proportion of poetry, for
the simple reason that he who has no mystic
experiences himself, will deny that others can
have them. Space does not permit of our en-
tering into all the details of this Celestial After-
math or of the other poems which form the sub-
ject-matter of this latest book. But, as the
author claims, much of the outlook set forth
in them might best be expressed by a para-
dox, Ideal-Realism ; the latter word being how-
ever shorn of any realistic flavour such as we meet
with in the writings of a Zola or a Gautier.
Neither the sordid nor the unpleasantly physical
162 CYRIL SCOTT
find a place in Scott's realism ; it is merely that
he does not blind his eyes to the truth (or what
he thinks to be the truth) respecting certain
emotional phases of life and love. He thus de-
picts real emotions, which is realism in a sense,
but contrives to beautify them, and this beauti-
fication is what constitutes the idealism.
The import of the various poems is set in a
frame-work which that remarkable stylist of
English, George Moore, regards as a requisite
of true poetry, namely, " a framework of flowers
and all fair things." Indeed, such verses as the
following, come up to what George Moore on
reading them considered the highest standard of
An alcove hung with smilax,
And sweet with roses from more southern fields,
Embowers us 'mid fragrance of near lilacs,
Which the soft garden yields.
A far-off flute has faded
Behind the gently sunset-haloed hill,
Where evening birds erewhile have serenaded
The dreamful daffodil.
Some of the poems entitled Far-away Songs
are word-pictures : Of Spring, Of Spring at Au-
tumntide, Of Autumn, Of Warm Winter Days,
Snow-scape, Ballad of an Angry Summer, A
Sussex Village, and so forth. One, however,
called A Lake-Side Cemetery contains more than
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 163
mere pictorial word-music, for it touches on the
philosophy of Death. This portrays that
inconsistency often found in the Christian
community, of mourning over (with all its
lugubrious accessories) those who have passed
out of the body. The writer shows here the
deep but unrecognised distinction between be-
lief and real knowledge. Thus he reflects :
I see them now those travailed ones,
I, glad initiate of death's rare meadows:
They wander 'mid the cypressed shadows
To deck with buds the urns of bronze;
So wearied, yet so mighty in Belief,
Where but one gleam of Knowledge had disbanded grief.
The poet is therefore an optimist in the more
correct, yet not extreme, sense of the word.
Even death is not sorrowful to him who under-
stands it, for in truth, ignorance is the cause of
most sorrows. Lamentations are only a form
of selfishness. Let the mind but identify itself
with the truly important things of life (he
philosophizes), especially in the sense of the
eternal things, and there is no room for mourn-
ing over departed ones.
It is quite beyond the limits of this book to
dwell in any further detail upon the wide range
of Cyril Scott's imaginative conceptions as a
poet. The reader needs only to refer to his works
164 CYRIL SCOTT
to become acquainted with the intellectual wealth
and prodigality of Scott's genius. There is more
of the seer than of the prophet in his poetry.
The simplicities of life, which make up the rou-
tine of existence for the majority of men and
women, have little attraction for him. The
passions and emotions with which these poems
mostly deal are not elemental. They verily exist,
but they are the result of a chain of influences
social, intellectual, aesthetic and religious-
stretching back a thousand years and more ; and
Cyril Scott proves himself a genius in being able
to lay them bare for our inspection. His knife
has a very keen and delicate edge. He probes
deep, and in such a poem, for example, as Dis-
courses in The Voice of the Ancient (page 41),
he opens up, with marvellously clever touch, the
profound secrets of the psychical nerve tissue of
that curious creation a human soul.
The style of these poems seems to indicate the
point of view from which the author looks at
truth. It is clearly formed to suit his highest
and most predominant thought. As might be
expected, the style is the man calm, even, musi-
cal, and mystic. Like other writers of genius,
Scott is sometimes below his usual level. Then
his ideas are more commonplace, and his style
becomes mere mannerism. But that is not often.
THE POET AND PHILOSOPHER 165
He is mostly the true literary artist who KNOWS
some things about the Eternal Self and about
human relations, which he holds with a fine poise
of power, not as the conclusions of the doc-
trinaire but as the dynamics of his life.
He touches the deeper experiences of exist-
ence and lifts them to the light where others
can see ; he paints in glowing words the incar-
nate personality of man's eternal brooding,
questioning desire. The soul of these poems is
in the lines :
Love is its own reward, and yields its own returning
To him who swerves not 'neath its stern assay,
Nor asks for tribute or repay.
The Voice of the Ancient, p. 60.
I have dwelt at some length on the poetry of
Cyril Scott, as he tells me there are times when
he feels a much better poet than a musician,
which is saying a great deal ; and thus to omit
dissertation of his poetry would be to present an
incomplete view of his many-sided personality.
AT present, the general run of people know but
one Cyril Scott, the refined creator of novel and
interesting salon pieces, and songs. This is no
belittlement of his art, for these pieces are in-
variably of the highest artistic type, and their
inclusion in any programme at once creates a
high standard and a refined atmosphere. But
very few people suspect the existence of many
other sides of his fascinating personality. Musi-
cians, however, at least those watchful of the
progress of the art, and those more especially
conversant with the concert rooms of France,
Italy and Germany, know another and a far
greater Cyril Scott the composer of the Or-
chestral Passacaglias, the Quintet, the Piano-
forte Concerto, and many other large works,
seldom heard in England. Still, only a few of
those even realise the full extent of his man} T -
170 CYRIL SCOTT
sidedness. He has innumerable modes, and
many of those even are richly subdivided. Take,
for instance, his Eastern vein. With Bantock
and Saint-Saens, this stops with the extreme
vividness and variety of colour the pictorial
side. Saint-Saens must have travelled in the
Orient only over the routes of the personally
conducted parties ; he probably took his French
chef with him. He certainly gives us in his
Algerian Suite, Africa, Melodies persanes, Sam-
son and Delilah, etc., only the lightest of surface-
painting. But Cyril Scott, without even visit-
ing the Orient, breathes the very philosophy
and occultism of the East. How he can do this,
I know not. He attributes it, in his Dedication
of the Egypt Impressions, to his own past Egyp-
tian lives. Bantock in setting Omar Khayyam
satisfies himself with depicting all the glowing
colours of the Persian Poet. Cyril Scott gives
the visual thing too, and goes to the very heart
and soul of the matter as well, for he is deeply
learned in Oriental lore, and extremely sensitive
to its magic appeal. But he has the purely pic-
torial side too ; or, as he would put it, writes
occasionally entirely on the physical plane. Then
he is more visualising than Ravel, more direct
than Stravinsky. Take for instance his realistic
Rikki-tiki-tavi and the Snake, his Paradise
Birds (he himself has a vein of pure exultant
carolling like the fantasias of birds). Take again
the graceful, lightning-like whirling of his
fascinating Rainbow-Trout and the comic
clumsiness of his Elephant Dance. Even the
philosophic and occult sides of his music have
differentiations. The Hindu music of his
Jungle Book gives quite a different feeling from
the dark magic of the Sphinx, the Dagobah,
and many pieces in Egypt. Then there is the
Cyril Scott of the brilliant Impressionist period,
somewhat closely allied to the Modern French
schools of Koechlin and Florent Schmitt ; and
later he gives us that remarkable style of sen-
suous music-making which throws aside the last
hold with the old styles the central keynote.
And this brings us to another characteristic
vein of his ; a mood most difficult of all to de-
fine in words. It has for its basis that natural-
ism which inspired our Constable alike with the
French masters, Corot and Millet. These art-
ists depict in no full-featured terms ; with them
nothing is positive or fixed, but they " perceive"
(in the words of Thomas Hardy) " how the In-
definite can yet be defined." It is the pure
fresh mood of early morning, the pensiveness of
evening never the noontide glory which causes
the souls of these artists to vibrate most
172 CYRIL SCOTT
sympathetically. It was so with Chopin, but
here we have the essence of things intensified.
This mood is the very opposite of the vivid art
of the painter Sargent, or of the composer
Strauss, or the startling up-to-dateness of
Augustus John or of Grainger. These men have
seized upon the prevailing spirit of their age,
whereas other artists, Scriabin, Debussy and
Scott, converse with the Spirit of Nature
herself, far from the madding crowd, in solitude
and aloofness. It is the sentiment of the
true landscape painter alone, of Corot and Con-
stable, which these musicians possess, and which
is seen in such pieces as the Tenth Sonata of
Scriabin, L'apres-midi d'un faune of Debussy,
the Cavatina or the Second Suite of Scott.
Another of the most interesting of Cyril
Scott's activities is his harmonisation of old
melodies. He has* revived these old " things of
beauty " and placed them in new surroundings.
Such a tendency, as he has explained, is found
in literature, and even in painting, since some
of the Pre-Raphaelites, and such a painter
as Hodler, are so near the ancient in both spirit
and manner that they may be classed as revival-
ists. Scott rightly holds that a thing of beauty
is not a joy for ever, and thus he says in the
Envoy to The Celestial Aftermath :
All greatness needs must new device portray,
And though a poet's prideful hope may perish,
Yet fairest things are not a joy for aye.
Now there are two ways of treating old airs
from the accompanimental point of view, one
being as great an anachronism as the other.
The method adopted by arrangers and editors
of adding as unobtrusive, uninventive and as
dull an accompaniment as possible, is as great an
anachronism (if we bring this idea into the
connection with the matter at all) as the method
of composers w r ho endeavour to put as much of
their own individuality into the frame-work of
the particular air they feel inspired to set ; for
very few arrangers really adapt their accompani-
ment to the particular period of the air in ques-
tion, but (apparently without knowing it) add
a sort of Mendelssohnian (or anything else
popular at the time) flavour instead. As Cyril
Scott says in his Philosophy of Modernism, they
forget that Mendelssohn is as much an anach-
ronism in connection with an old song as De-
bussy is. A melody in itself is not sufficient at
the present day to hold the pleasurable attention
of serious musicians. As he quaintly says, it
may be sufficient to hold the attention of the
butcher's boy, but it has no place in the concert
hall. Otherwise Donizetti would still be modern
174 CYRIL SCOTT
and Verdi would not have taken over Wag-
nerian accessories at the end of his career.
Cyril Scott has somehow achieved an absence
of tonality in setting these purely tonal things.
The best instances of w r hich are to be found as
already mentioned in his Passacaglia for orches-
tra No. 1 (on the Irish Famine Song) and in
his use of The Girl I left behind me in the piano
meditation Sea-Marge. As an example of
Scott's free treatment of ancient melodies, I
would mention his pianoforte piece founded on
the thirteenth century tune Sinner is icumen in.
The composer here treats the intonation of the
leading note as arbitrarily as the early medieval
singers themselves would probably do. The note
is B flat as often as it is B natural. The fact
that the piece ends on an F major chord with
a terrific glissando (including B natural) does not
greatly assist the anxious enquirer after scales
and tonalities. The old Welsh tune, All through
the Night, and the Irish melody, The Wild,
Hills of Clare, however still preserve the feeling
of a steady tonic centre, although doubtless there
are a few anxious moments for those who keep
the more generally accepted harmonies in mind.
With the violin pieces, Cherry Ripe, and the
beautiful Irish air, The Gentle Maiden, the
modern atmosphere or aroma, call it what you
will, is to my mind much more successful. The
violin part there confines itself to the diatonic
melodies, whilst the piano supplies an emotional
background of a modern order. Although I
confess that some of these settings of his do not
carry conviction to me, these two violin pieces
seem to be ideal presentments of this novel style.
There is little doubt that the music of Cyril
Scott is destined to take a high place in the music
of the future. And not only the music, but also
the manner of it, the calmness of the musician
himself, partly leading me to this conclusion.
He was heralded with no fanfares ; he is afflicted
with no jumbo-manias ; he demands no over-
grown gargantuan orchestras or choruses, al-
though his treatment of them is nearly always
quite new and individual ; he has never courted
the press, nor indulged in floods of advertising,
covert or otherwise ; rather has he deliberately
shunned publicity, and not infrequently know-
ingly alienated the more conservative critics. He
once said that 4 6 Fame is an evil contrivance to
waste one's time. As to money-making, it is
the greatest waste of time imaginable. How can
anybody centre his mind on trying to write
beautiful things when he is thinking of money?
To make more money than the bare comforts of
life demand, ought never to be the aim of the art-
176 CYRIL SCOTT
ist ; if it comes his way of its own accord, that is
another matter. As to winning over the critics,
the more ' slated ' one is the better : to be im-
mediately understood, means one is not worth
It is hardly to be wondered at that a man who
Not wise is even he who sings for bay
Of future laud in lieu of present laurel,
For both are but the toys of children's play.
should not court publicity. " If I am worth any-
thing, time will prove it ; if I am worth nothing,
then all the better if my writings are not heard."
And his final reflection on this matter is that
Fame wastes a young man's time, and tires an
old man's body, therefore Nature is not unkind
when it only permits some people to be famous
after their death.
There is, in consequence, about his music as a
whole, as about his nature, that calm and reserve,
that poise and quiet confidence, which I can only
liken to the chief characteristics of the music of
the grandest of all musical geniuses unknown
in his generation and for long afterwards, but
now regarded as strikingly modern Johann
Sebastian Bach. This does not imply that
his music is void of vitality and of passion ;
far from it ; for the Quintet, the Violin Sonata
and many other works would at once give the lie
to that statement ; but the passion and vitality is
as it were not that fret and wearing passion of
earth, but is of a plane where force is both intense
activity and calm at the same time, paradoxical
though this may sound.
Conservative people will call many of the
new harmonies of Cyril Scott harsh and discord-
ant, yet Concord and Discord are indefinite
things ; every decade sees some new combination
accepted as a concord.
Art is a fluid thing, the laws of which are con-
tinually being modified. The old contrapuntists
reckoned the fourth as a discord, nowadays we
accept the dominant seventh as a concord, then
comes Scriabin with his sky-scraper of fourths
which he accepted as the perfect concord and the
mystic chord at the same time. Old things come
round again, but never quite in the same way.
Just as the early English and Elizabethan com-
posers need a Dolmetsch to interpret their false
relations, quaint turns, and idioms, just as
Wagner brought in a new school of conductors
und singers, so the music of Cyril Scott demands
a new type of exponents, pianists of modern ca-
pacities such as Grainger, Arthur Rubinstein,
William Murdoch, or Percy Waller, conductors
178 CYRIL SCOTT
like Beecham or Goosens, and such exquisitely
temperamental vocal interpreters as Miss Jean
Waterston, Miss Maggie Teyte, Mr. Hubert
Eisdell, or Mr. Gervase Elwes. Curiously
enough, however, some of the very singers who
one would think might be attracted to the songs
have refrained from taking them up : and these,
moreover, with the type of talent and voice so es-
pecially suited to them. And yet, why this inces-
sant outcry for good English songs when they are
to hand even without the asking? True it is that
each year a larger number of vocalists are recog-
nising the merit of the Scott songs, but it has
taken the courage and enterprise of a few more
enlightened artists to bring this tardily about.
Especially have we to thank Miss Grainger-Kerr,
Miss Jean Waterston and Miss Beryl Freeman
for actually forcing the English public to accept
Cyril Scott, just as Sir Henry Wood forced the
English to accept Debussy : renouncing mere
love of applause for the nobler aim of introduc-
ing sincere art into the concert halls.
The sources of a composer's inspiration are un-
doubtedly of interest, although naturally they
tend, with the evolution of music, to become less
special and more fundamental as time goes on.
Whereas one traces the music of Chopin to the
Polish dances and songs, the music of Vaughan-
Williams, like the poetry of Walt Whitman,
largely to the sea, the music of Beethoven to na-
ture, of Schumann to literature, of Scriabin to
colour, and so forth, it is mbre difficult to decide
the sources of Cyril Scott's inspiration . To
literature assuredly he owes much, and he him-
self frequently turns his pen to it for relief. The
close and intimate connection between his music
and the poetry of his songs, too, shows what a
power this sister art possesses over him. His
theosophic and occult studies have also left a deep
impress on his music. Doubtless too, the music
of others whom he admires Wagner, Strauss,
Stravinsky, Debussy, Grainger, Ravel has
stimulated his muse in a healthy way. But there
is a power within him which gives impulse more
than any other : it is the joyful welling forth
of music itself as a natural force. It often gushes
out after the manner of an extemporaneous per-
formance in a sheer glad carolling, a happy
warbling like that of the natural song birds, out
of the very joy of life itself. And surely enough
this composer should have a happy time of it.
Freed from harassing cares by the thoughtful
action of his publishers, relieved from teaching
except when he chooses, his life has had no great
obstacles to cast their shadows over his radiant
creativeness. Not yet at the crest of his powers,
180 CYRIL SCOTT
we may reasonably look for even finer works from
In an age when the whole of Europe is plunged
into a turmoil of elemental strife, when the
huge errors of an apparently materialistic age
have brought about such dire results, the value
of such idealistic and optimistic music cannot be
over-estimated. In our desire to be rid of the
music of the heavy German type of Bruckner,
the megalomania of Mahler and the risky sanity
of Schonberg, we have thrown ourselves some-
what thoughtlessly into the arms of the lachry-
mose Russians and at the present moment we
seem inclined to swallow anything under a Slav
patronymic, good, bad, or indifferent, with equal
relish. Our British composers are at the least
the equal of those of any other country, and
should be so recognised. Perhaps this survey
of Cyril Scott, the man and his music, may con-
tribute its quota towards such a consummation.
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS
First Symphony. First performed at Darm-
stadt. (Now destroyed).
Second Symphony. First performed by Sir
Henry Wood. Later converted into Three
Orchestral Dances and first so performed in
Birmingham, conducted by the composer.
Heroic Suite for Orchestra. First performed by
Richter at Manchester. This work was re-
garded later by the composer as immature,
Overture to Pelleas and Melisande. First per-
formed in Frankfort. 2nd Edition re-
worked from an earlier attempt.
Overture to Princess Maleine with Chorus. First
performed in Vienna. 2nd Edition (re-
Christmas Overture for Orchestra with Nativity
Hymn for Chorus and Orchestra. Intended
Viennese performances stopped by war.
184 CYRIL SCOTT
Ballad of Fair Helen of Kirkconnel for baritone
Solo and Orchestra. Sung by Mr. Frederic
Two Passacaglias on Irish Themes for Orchestra.
First performed by Beecham at a Philhar-
Pianoforte Concerto. First given in Beecham ? s
English Festival. Full Score : Augener.
Rhapsody for Orchestra.
Aubade for Orchestra. 2nd Edition reworked.
Performed in Darmstadt, Dresden and Ber-
lin. Published by Schott.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
Pianoforte Quartet, Op. 16. First played by
Kreisler and others at a Broadwood Concert
in St. James' Hall. (Boosey).
String Quartet. Performed widely in Germany
by the Rebner Quartet party. Withdrawn
and partly reworked.
Pianoforte Quintet. 1 Performed at one of his
own Concerts at Bechstein Hall.
Sonata for Violin and Piano. 2 Performed in
Cologne Frankfurt, Berlin, New York, &c.
1 Awaiting" publication.
2 Schott & Co.
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 185
Pianoforte Sonata. Performed widely by Moekle
in Germany, Austria, Switzerland. (Elkin).
Pianoforte Trio. Unpublished and discarded.
Handelian Rhapsody for Piano. Early work,
edited by Percy Grainger. (Elkin).
Of the earliest pieces, only a few are pub-
3. April Love.
4. Little Lady of my Heart (Songs).
5. No. 182, Dairy Song and Yvonne of
Brittany (Boosey & Co.)
9. Daphnis and Chloe (Boosey & Co.)
20. Three Dances (Boosey & Co.)
24. Two Poems for Voice and Piano (Elkin) :
(i) Voices of Vision.
25. Scherzo for Piano (Elkin).
30. (i) A Last Word (Ma Mie). Song
(Boosey & Co.)
(ii) There comes an end to Summer. Song
(Boosey & Co.)
186 CYRIL SCOTT
31. Asleep. Song (Boosey Co.)
32. Autumnal. Song ,,
33. Villanelle. Song
34. Evening Hymn. Song ,,
35. Two Pierrot Pieces ,,
30. Two Songs (Elkin) :
(i) A Valediction.
37. Two Piano Pieces (Boosey & Co.)
88. (i) My Captain. Song (Elkin).
(ii) Trafalgar. Song (Boosey & Co.)
39. Dagobah for Piano (Forsyth).
40. (i) Solitude (Elkin).
41. Impromptu (Elkin) :
(i) Eileen. )
(ii) The Ballad Singer. ( (Boosey & Co.)
(iii) Mary. }
43. Three Songs (Elkin) :
(i) A Gift of Silence.
(ii) Don't come in, Sir, please!
(iii) The White Knight.
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 187
46. Two Chinese Songs (Elkin) :
(i) (a) Waiting.
(b) A Picnic.
(ii) A Song of Wine.
47. Two Pieces for Piano (Elkin) :
(i) Lotus Land.
50. Song and Piece (Elkin) :
(i) Aspodel, Sketch for Piano,
(ii) Afterday Song.
52. Three Songs (Elkin) :
(i) Song of London.
(ii) A Roundel of Rest.
(iii) A Blackbird Song.
54. Summer Time (Elkin) :
(ii) A Song from the East.
(iii) Evening Idyll.
(iv) Fairy Folk.
55. (i) Two Old English Lyrics (Elkin):
(a) Lovely Kind and Kindly Loving.
(b) Why so Pale and Wan?
(ii) Song, "Love's Quarrel."
188 CYRIL SCOTT
56. Two Songs (Elkin) :
(i) A twain.
57. Three Songs for Piano (Elkin) :
(iii) Scotch Lullaby.
Also Two Sketches for Piano (Easy) (Elkin)
(iv) Cuckoo Call.
(v) Twilight Bells.
58. (i) Three Little Waltzes (Elkin) :
(a) Allegro poco Scherzando.
(b) Andante Languido.
(c) Allegretto Gracioso.
(ii) Two Alpine Sketches.
(iii) Danse Negre.
61. Two Songs (Elkin) :
(b) In a Fairy Boat.
62. Three Songs (Elkin) :
(i) A Lost Love.
(ii) A Vision.
(iii) An Eastern Lament.
63. Sphinx for Piano (Elkin).
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 189
64. Etudes (Elkin):
(ii) Allegro con Brio.
65. Song, "And so I made a Villanelle."
66. Sonata for Piano (Elkin).
67. Four pieces for Piano (Elkin) :
(iv) Soiree Japonaise.
68. Two Songs (Elkin) :
(ii) Osm^s Song.
70. Two Songs (Elkin) :
(i) My Lady Sleeps.
71. Songs and Pieces (Elkin) :
(i) Suite in the old style for Piano,
Prelude, Sarabande and Minuet.
(ii) Song, " Evening."
(iii) Bergeronnette (Water- Wagtail)
72. Four Songs (Elkin) :
(i) A Spring Ditty.
(iii) The Trysting Tree.
(iv) The Valley of Silence.
190 CYRIL SCOTT
73. Three pieces for Violin and Piano (Schott) :
(iii) Valse triste.
74. (a) Trois Dances Tristes for Violin and
Piano (Schott) :
(i) Danse elegiaque.
(ii) Danse orientale.
(iii) Danse langoureuse.
(b) Valse Caprice for Piano.
(c) Chansonette do.
75. Second Suite for Piano (Schott) :
(ii) Air vane.
(iii) Solemn Dance.
(iv) Caprice and Fuga.
77. Aubade for Orchestra (Schott).
LATER WORKS WITHOUT OPUS NUMBERS
VIOLIN AND PIANO
Intermezzo (Elkin) (1910).
Tallahassee Suite (Schott) (1911) :
(i) Bygone Memories.
(ii) After Sundown.
(iii) Air et Danse negre.
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 191
Cherry Ripe (Schott) (1911).
Deux Preludes (Schott) (1912).
The Gentle Maiden (Schott) (1912).
PIECES FOR PIANO WITHOUT OPUS NUMBERS
An English Valse (Novello). First piece ever
published. Then followed.
Album of Six Pieces (Forsyth).
Three Frivolous Pieces ,,
Two Villanelles for Vocal Quartet with piano
and viola accompaniment (unpublished).
Over the Prairie (Two Impressions) (1911).
Berceuse (Elkin) (1911).
British Melodies (Elkin) :
(i) All through the night.
(ii) The wild hills of Clare.
(iii) Sumer is icuw.cn in.
Pierrette (Elkin) (1912).
Impressions from the Jungle Book (Schott)
(i) The Jungle.
(iii) Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and the Snake.
(iv) Morning Song in the Jungle.
(v) Dance of the Elephants.
192 CYRIL SCOTT
Egypt (Schott) (1912) :
(i) In the Temple of Memphis.
(ii) By the Waters of the Nile.
(iii) Egyptian Boat Song.
(iv) Funeral March of the Great Raamses,
(v) Song of the spirits of the Nile.
Poems (Schott) (1912) :
(ii) The Garden of Soul-Sympathy.
(iv) The Twilight of the year.
Pastoral Suite (Elkin) (1913) :
(i) C our ante.
Prelude Solennelle (Elkin) (1913).
Cavatina , , , ,
Sea Marge (Elkin) (1914).
Danse Romantique ,, ,,
Diatonic Study ,, ,,
Ode Hero'ique ,, ,,
Russian Dance ,, (1915).
Miniatures ,, ,,
Irish Reel ,, ,,
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 193
Russian Suite (Air, Siberian Waltz, Dance)
Requiescat (Elkin) (1917).
Rondeau de Concert
Love's Aftermath (Elkin) (1911).
An Old Song ended ,, ,,
Pierrot and the Moon Maiden ,, (1912).
Sleep Song ,, ,,
In the Valley ,, ,,
Retrospect ,, (1913).
Autumn Song ,, ,,
Old Songs in New Guise ,, ,,
(i) Where be going?
(ii) Drink to me only with thine eyes.
(iii) Sumer is icumen in.
A Song of Arcady (Elkin) (1914).
A u t umn y s Lute , , , ,
A Prayer ,,
Evening Melody. ,, ,,
Lilac Time. ,, ,,
194 CYRIL SCOTT
Night Song (Elkin) (1915).
Invocation. ,, ,,
Tyrolese Evening Song (1916).
Looking Back (Elkin) (1917).
The Sands of Dee ,, ,,
Requiem ,, ,,
The Pilgrim Cranes , , , ,
The Little Bells of Sevilla
Modern Finger Exercises ,, ,,
FLUTE AND PIANO
Scotch Pastoral on " Fe banfo a?ic? braes"
CELLO AND PIANO
Pierrot amoureux (Schott).
(Piano and Viola obligate)
Two Villanelles (1911).
VIOLA AND PIANO
Fantasie (written for Mr. Lionel Tertis) Unpub-
LIST OF MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS 195
Six Pieces (transcribed by Arthur W. Pollitt)
(ii) Alpine Sketch.
(iv) A Song from the East.
Six Pieces (transcribed by A. Eaglefield Hull)
(i) Ode Hero'ique.
(ii) Over the Prairie.
(iii) Diatonic Study.
(v) Evening Idyll.
(vi) Prelude Solennelle.
The Shadows of Silence and the Songs of
Yesterday (Liverpool : Donald Fraser).
The Grave of Eros and The Book of Mournful
Melodies with Dreams from the East
(Liverpool : Donald Fraser).
The Voice of the Ancient (London : J. M.
The Vales of Unity (London : David Nutt).
The Celestial Aftermath, A Springtide of the
Heart, and Far-away Songs (London:
Translations from the German of Stefan George,
Flowers of Evil from the French of Baude-
laire (London : Elkin Mathews).
The Philosophy of Modernism (in its connection
with music) (London : Kegan Paul, Trench,
Printed in Great Britain by Ebenezer Baylis ft Son, Trinity Works, Worcester,
PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY
Hull, Arthur Kaglei'ielci
Cyril Scott. 2d ed.